Tim Wakefield has been on the DL with a strained lower back, hamstring and calf since his last start on July 8. Wakefield will be replacing Brad Penny in the rotation who hasn't won a game since July 24 against Baltimore. Wakefield has gone 11-3 with a 4.31 ERA for the Red Sox this season while making his first All-Star Game appearance in his 17 year career. In his last rehab assignment with Pawtucket, Wakefield went 5 and 2/3 innings allowing only 1 run, getting the win. Wake will get the nod for Boston on Wednesday night against the Chicago White Sox.
The expectations aren't high for Wakefield to come back and pick up where he left off at the All-Star break according to manager Terry Francona. The fact that Francona is able to say, "he sure could help us" after seeing the last outing by Brad Penny, shows that the Red Sox have not opted out of the pennant race to settle for the AL Wild Card. No manager is willing to put a starter out there after coming off the DL without thinking about two aspects first. Can this guy win? and Is this guy healthy enough to return to the starting rotation? Obviously Tito has answered both of those questions giving Wake the opportunity to pitch against Chicago.
An easy decision by the Red Sox to place Tim Wakefield back into the starting rotation and remove a struggling Brad Penny seems like an effortless move. The bigger decision is going to be after September call ups when Daisuke Matsuzaka ends his run on the DL and returns to the team is, who is Dice-K going to replace?
Clay Buchholz has put in some great work over the past few outings and shown that he can be en effective three or four man in the rotation. Junichi Tazawa has also proven that if needed he will also be able to perform at a high level after his scoreless six innings against the New York Yankees in a 14-1 win over the weekend. Begging the question, Which of the two would be more suitable for the starting rotation?
Chuck Hanf seems to be obsessed with Buchholz in a similar way that I feel about the newcomer Tazawa for the rotation. From a managerial perspective, I am already assuming that once Dice-K returns, we will have seen the last of Tazawa in a starters role and he will be moved to the bullpen for some added help that we do need. I still have the prayer of seeing the possibility of a six-man rotation and what kind of success, if any, it could produce for Boston.