With Daisuke returning to the Boston Red Sox starting rotation, Tim Wakefield was relegated to a long relief pitching role. He has experience in the bullpen and had been the team’s fifth starter.
This move is very dangerous for two reasons.
First, it upsets Wakefield, who was just 17 wins away from the club record in career wins. An upset Wakefield means lower overall team chemistry. A disgruntled player is never one that a team wants to have in a locker room.
I think Wake will handle Terry Francona’s decision with grace, and his frustration will certainly not show, being the savvy veteran that he is. But he is definitely not happy.
Second, and more importantly, Wakefield is not the type of pitcher you want in the bullpen. Wake’s primary pitch is a knuckleball, and if a hitter can make decent contact with a pitch, fly balls become very common. The more solid the contact, the deeper the ball will travel.
As a starter, home runs are less significant, because teams will have more opportunities to neutralize the run allowed. But as a bullpen pitcher, these bombs cause momentum swings and can really lower team morale.
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