It should have been over some time ago, to be honest. However, due to a number of injuries to the Red Sox rotation, as well as his over-glorified quest for 200 wins, Tim Wakefield has been somewhat of a mainstay in this rotation. In 2011, Wake has made 21 starts (and 10 appearances out of the bullpen), which is good for third on the team. There have obviously been some injuries to the rotation, but Wakefield has been starting too many games for this team this year, especially down the stretch.
The reason I'm so down on Wakefield is that he has no upside. You basically know what you're going to get from him night in and night out. That used to be enough, but lately, we know that he is just going to pitch five innings, give up five or six runs and walk as many batters as he strikes out. That's just the way he's been this season. Now, since Wakefield has been a member of the Red Sox, he has always hit one stretch in the season where he has his knuckler going perfectly and he hits a nice groove. They are always nice to ride when they occur, but once its over Wakefield goes back to his mediocre self. The thing is, Wakefield hit his stride long ago, in May, when he had a 3.51 ERA in 25.2 innings. It was the only month this season in which he was able to hold his ERA under five.
Now, this article isn't meant to rip Wakefield (even though it kind of is). I'm 20 years old, and have been following baseball since the late 90s. Because of this, I've never known a Red Sox team without Tim Wakefield. He is one of my favorite players ever, but I know when it's time to go. Take yesterday's game for example. The Red Sox no longer have a Doug Mirabelli-type guy who can come in every fifth day and catch Wakefield. His control has worsened, and he and Saltalamacchia have no rapport. In yesterday's game, Wakefield threw a wild pitch, and also had three pitches get by Salty for passed balls, which led to a couple of runs. The team can't afford to have four balls get by the catcher down the stretch, especially when the pitcher isn't really pitching well at the time.
My solution is simple, remove Tim Wakefield from the rotation now. On Friday, Josh Beckett returned from a minor injury, and on Tuesday Erik Bedard will rejoin the rotation for his first start since September 3rd. The rotation will still have to hold on to someone like Kyle Weiland, but I would be willing to live with that if I were Tito. Even if you are too uncomfortable with Weiland, why not insert Andrew Miller back into the rotation. We all know he has been remarkably inconsistent, but he has shown flashes of plus stuff and the ability to make people whiff. Personally, when given the choice between a young lefty who has shown flashes or an old knuckleballer who gives you exactly mediocre starts every time, I'll take the young gun every time. Especially at a time like this, when panic buttons are being pushed all around New England, as Tampa has climbed to just two back in the Wild Card race.