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Well, Old Reliable is back yet again. The 44-year-old Tim Wakefield is coming back for his 19th season in the majors and 17th with Boston. He comes into the season with a similar role he had last year, when he was used in both spot starts and in the bullpen. The majority of his work will most likely come from long relief coming out of the pen. After having a good year in 2009, Wakefield is looking to rebound from a poor 2010, which saw his ERA be the highest in 10 years. He finished last season with a record of 4-10, an ERA of 5.32, and he also gave up 19 home runs in only 32 games.
The knuckleballer made it known in the past that he doesn’t like coming out of the bullpen, but he has grown to accept his role and do the best he can. I am sure he’ll get some starts here and there, especially with the uncertainty of the starting rotation at times. You never know what you get with Daisuke Matsuzaka at the end of the rotation, so Wakefield will be prepared to step in when called upon.
Coming out of the bullpen certainly makes the relieving corps creative, as it’s not every day that a knuckleball pitcher comes in midway through the game. I’m not sure he’ll have the best year this season, but as long as he is able to make spot starts when needed and is solid in the bullpen, Red Sox nation will be happy. Wakefield has been hurt in the past and his back isn’t what it used to be, so don’t be surprised if this is his last season. Look for numbers around a record of 6-7 with an ERA of 4.11 in 35 games (12 starts). He really cut down his walks last season, as he had 50 in 2009 and 36 last year, so hopefully his command will be strong. He doesn’t have to do any spectacular, but just go out there and be the same old Wakefield we all have come to know and love.