One of the better free-agent signings of the past offseason has been Dodgers starter Randy Wolf, who was briefly tied for the National League lead in wins this week but is earning a rather reasonable $7.5 million this year.
At 8-4, Wolf is on a 20-win pace this season, and has provided a psychological boost as a “stopper” who has posted 5 of those victories following a Dodgers loss.
The scary part is, Wolf’s numbers would be even better if he didn’t have a mini meltdown in the first inning of virtually every game he starts.
Wolf has been absolutely atrocious to open ballgames, yielding an OPS of over 1.000 on the first 15 pitches he throws in a game, and posting a first inning ERA of 7.07, compared to 3.44 the rest of the way, having given up 11 earned runs in the first inning of ball games, compared to only 26 runs in all other innings combined.
A typical Wolf game will see him let in 2 or 3 runs in the opening frame, followed by 6 innings of flawless, shutout ball. This man doesn’t need a closer – he needs an opener. I say bring the Dodgers should bring in Jon Broxton to pitch the first inning of Wolf’s games, while Wolf throws an extra 15 warmup pitches in the bullpen.
With the pitches Wolf would have normally wasted just getting out of the first, he can be his own setup man and closer. Indeed, on pitches 91-106, Wolf is yielding opponents a miniscule .238 batting average and .273 on-base percentage.