I present to you three players, and their numbers in August:
Player A -- 5 GS, 26 IP, 3.46 ERA, 9 BB, 26 K
Player B -- 5 GS, 31 IP, 5.23 ERA, 6 BB, 20 K
Player C -- 5 GS, 32 IP, 5.34 ERA, 10 BB, 25 K
Clearly Player A isn't quite the same as the other two. He's had much better results in rather fewer innings, and has the look of a solid #2 or #3, even a #1 on some small market teams. The other two haven't been quite as impressive, and are definite back-end guys.
For some reason, though, it's Player A and Player B who share this curious similarity:
Player A is Erik Bedard. He is 0-2 on the month with five earned runs in twelve innings in his two losses.
Player B is Tim Wakefield. He is also 0-2 on the month, albeit with some rather more deserving losses to his name.
Player C is our control, if you will, in John Lackey. He is 3-1 with eleven earned runs in eighteen innings in his three wins.
You don't really need me to tell you that this is kind of ridiculous.
But the quest for a win--for Erik Bedard his first with the Sox, for Tim Wakefield the 200th of his career--has been frustrating in different ways for the two starters.
Erik Bedard has been entirely impressive since joining the Sox, maintaining the same production he did with the Sox as with the Mariners despite facing a formidable schedule in a much more difficult park. The difficulty for him has come from every direction: offense, defense, the strike zone, bad calls on outfield catches, and now, after Saturday, an act of God.
For Tim Wakefield, the issues have come from both inside and out. For his first four attempts, Wakefield had pitched fairly well, with the equivalent of a quality start each time. But in three of his attempts the Sox scored a total of seven runs, and another was just plain bad timing. More recently, though, Wakefield has just been plain ineffective, allowing twelve runs--eight of them earned--in his last nine innings of work.
Originally, my question here was going to be: "who gets their win first?" But that seems kind of a foolish thing to ask. It could well be Wakefield, but at the very least all the real evidence points to Bedard, to the point where anyone answering Wakefield would likely just be doing so on a random hunch.
So perhaps a better question is: will Tim Wakefield record his 200th win?
It seems like a ridiculous thought that he might not, but consider the situation. He has had six opportunities since his last win. With one month left to go, and a six-man rotation emerging at least for now, he's not likely to have more than another six. What's more, he seems to be entering a bit of a down period based on his last couple of games, and if the Red Sox find Andrew Miller to be a much more viable option and make the division race a priority, then he might not even get that many more opportunities.
You would think that he has to luck into a win somewhere in his next five or six starts, but we have evidence enough that this isn't necessarily true since he didn't over his last six. The best news for Wakefield is that the offense is back to hitting in a big way, scoring an average of eight runs over their last six games, but that's still no guarantee.
Is Wakefield likely to get his 200th win? Yes, certainly. Going ten games without one starting in front of this offense and defense is the sort of thing that happens only once in a blue moon. But the very idea that it's even a question up for some debate is, to me, noteworthy in itself.
And should he not manage it this year, who knows if he'll get another shot?