One of the few roles on the Boston Red Sox without a clear owner is the fifth starter slot.
There are many candidates for the job, some in the organization as well as some on other teams that the Sox could try to go get.
While there may be many who should get consideration, most notably Alfredo Aceves, the answer to the Red Sox pitching concerns is the same as it has been so many times in the past.
Tim Wakefield has been a steady presence in the Red Sox pitching staff for almost two decades now. Never the ace, but certainly never the weak link, either.
Much like the knuckleball that he’s made a career out of mastering, Wakefield can be erratic at times, but history has proved he is a good major league pitcher.
You know what you're going to get out of Wakefield in the long run. He’s going to give you quality starts, get you some wins and, most importantly, as the rotation anchor, he’s going to eat up innings.
Wakefield has averaged 164 innings pitched over his career, despite many demotions to the bullpen over the years—demotions that he’s taken as well as you could expect anyone to.
Always the consummate professional, Wakefield has done whatever the Sox have asked of him over the years.
He’s like your favorite comfort food. It’s always there when you want it and you know it’s going to satisfy.
Sure, some of his starts are going to be horror shows. The knuckler won’t be knuckling, he won’t get out of the first few innings and the Sox will lose.
But time has shown these outings will be few and far between and, for the most part, you’ll get a solid start out of Wakefield.
You just have to have a short memory about the bad games, which has been easier to do each year he reminds us that he’ll bounce back the next outing.
Most of the time the knuckleball will find a way to get the job done. It may not look pretty—the pitch won’t win any beauty contests—but by it’s nature, it will have stretches for innings at a time where Wakefield is unhittable.
This type of long-term consistency is what you're looking for from a fifth starter.
He doesn’t need to be an All-Star, he just needs to be someone you can be confident in giving the ball to every fifth day.
You don’t want the fifth starter to be the type of pitcher who can go into extended periods where his stuff isn’t working and he can’t get the team a win.
Wakefield’s performance through the years has shown he has the skills to get the job done.
Recently, Wakefield’s even been getting some love from his biggest rival through the years, the evil empire themselves.
Robinson Cano, quickly becoming the best player but not the biggest star on the Yankees, even went so far as to suggest that Wakefield has compiled the type of resume that merits Hall of Fame consideration.
While his Hall of Fame credentials are certainly up for debate, whether or not he has what it takes to be a solid fifth starter for the Red Sox going forward this season isn’t.
As his career record has shown us: When the season is over, you're going to be happy with the decision to have Tim Wakefield in the starting pitching rotation for your team.