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Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Knuckleballer Bobby Tiefenauer had 1 hit in 39 career at-bats (.026). So there’s that also.
Turn back the clock just 25 years ago. Hough, Tom Candiotti and the Niekro brothers were all top-of-the-rotation pitchers for their respective teams. A decade earlier, Wilbur Wood had four straight seasons of 20 wins or better. Of course we can’t forget Hoyt Wilhelm, a Hall of Famer. Today, outside of Dickey, there is no one even close to being an established knuckleballer. Charlie Zink made one start for Boston in 2008. Charlie Haeger had a couple of brief cups of coffee with the Dodgers in 2009 and 2010. Neither was good enough to stick around very long.
So is there anyone on the horizon? One minor leaguer to keep an eye on is Steven Wright, a right handed knuckleballer with the Indians. He converted last season and is throwing the pitch 85% of the time. After bouncing around three minor league levels and posting an unsightly WHIP of 1.6 and walk-rate close to 5, Wright has pitched well thus far this year; going 2-1 with a 1.56 ERA in 3 starts for the Indians Double-A affiliate. His walks are still high (5.2 per 9), but he’s struck out nearly 10 batters per 9 innings. When mastering a “trick pitch” progress can’t be sneered at.
The Indians actually endorsed Wright going full-time with the knuckleball after Candiotti watched him throw. With all the organizational fillers throughout the game, wouldn’t it make sense for every team to be progressive with the pitch? “Being on the other side, in the management side, I’m not looking for a guy that can throw a knuckleball. I don’t know of any big league manager that’s going ‘boy, I wish I had a knuckleballer on my team’,” Hough, now senior adviser of player development for the Dodgers, told me during a recent interview. “We’ve only got so many innings per year for our prospects to pitch. It’s difficult to give some of those innings to somebody kind of on an experiment.”
Posted: April 25, 2012 at 04:24 PM | 33 comment(s)
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