Can we blame the catcher who has never seen a ball dance like that before, sometimes dropping up to 14 inches vertically and moving horizontally up to 12 inches as it came at him?
Maybe the Red Sox should have called up the same catcher that handles Steven Wright down at Pawtucket?
Do you blame it on manager John Farrell?
In a post game interview he stated, "It's the first time he's thrown the knuckleball in a dome, there's going to be extra movement to it." Sounds like this is something he should have taken into account before sending him out there?
Toronto Blue Jays knuckler, R.A. Dickey works in a home park that has a dome on it, but then again he gets to practice in there all the time.
Lets have a pseudo-scientific look at this and see who we can find to blame for this terrible start and what might be sabotage for our chances of seeing the flutterball back at Fenway any time soon.
First off, he threw 38 pitches, 18 for strikes, struck out 1, walked 2 and allowed only a single hit. Obviously the passed balls, dropped balls, missed balls, bobbled balls, juggled balls, and "where-did-that-damn-thing-go" balls hurt the Red Sox.
His release point was very consistent according to BrooksBaseball.
Next we look at what he threw.
8 fastballs for 6 strikes
29 knuckleballs for 12 strikes
Nothing really crazy jumps out at you here other than that it is amazing that he only walked 2 hitters.
I am not going to blame Steven Wright as he was consistent, the pitches were dancing, and he was not aware that the domed park would have that effect, obviously. I don't buy his statement that he should have been able to adjust. His catcher couldn't even flag them down, how was he going to be able to know which way it would be moving before he threw the next pitch?
I am not going to blame the catcher Ryan Lavarnway, as even Steven Wright admitted that he felt sorry for his poor catcher. It would have been great TV to have been given close up views of the catchers eyes as he tried to catch these flutterballs.
Hey Skipper, I want to talk to you!
I am going to blame the manager, after all he is the boss. He states after the game that it was expected that the knuckleball would dance more in a domed park, but forgot to tell the catcher and the pitcher. I think he should have used the catcher most used to catching this guy, or give Ryan Lavarnway some serious time with Steven Wright during his bullpen sessions. There is almost no limit to the number of pitches for a knuckler, so practice makes perfect I would say. This is all on John Farrell in my book.
All I know is that I want to see Steven Wright back sooner rather than later, whipping up a batch of nasty knucklers for the opposing hitters to wave at. Maybe this time in an open park, but sort that out and bring him back Mr. Farrell.
Eric is a contributing writer since 2013 and a true Overseas Fan of the Boston Red Sox living in the Netherlands. He's spent years on baseball fields around the world pitching. His weekends are now spent helping the next generations of pitchers to find their passion and love for the sport. More articles by Eric: https://www.redsoxlife.com/search/label/ericschabell