After a resurgent 2011, it’d be asking a bit too much for Randy Wolf to repeat his performance from last season. At times, Wolf was the best pitcher in the Brewers rotation, maintaining a 2.39 era over April and May, and later winning four games in August. For the season, the 35-year-old southpaw won 13 games, his highest total since 2003, and upheld a 3.69 era. For the third consecutive season, he surpassed the 200 inning mark. He is as reliable a fourth starter there is in the National League.
You can bank on 3o-plus starts and at least 200 innings from Wolf, who has surpassed both totals regularly throughout his career with the exception of an injury-plagued stretch in Philadelphia. Throughout his career, Wolf has quietly brandished reliability without an excessive sense of bravado on the mound. Consistent numbers over 13 seasons (he’s 127-107 with a 4.09 era and 103 ERA+) support the notion that Wolf has gotten lucky. His career-lowest opponent BABIP is .253, relatively high for a pitcher of Wolf’s experience and overall success.
Last season, he walked fewer batters, exercised better command, and gave up fewer home runs. With a natural decline in velocity, a greater command of the fastball, slide piece, curve, and changeup are keys to success. Wolf also added a cut-type fastball that gave him more leverage in hitter-friendly counts.
As with the rest of the pitching staff, Wolf must keep the Brewers in games late, especially without the explosive bat of Prince Fielder. He threw the most innings for Milwaukee in 2011, which is a positive sign considering the late-game prowess of Yovani Gallardo. At least one complete game, if not more, would be more than appreciated out of Wolf.
If the man with the pococurante pitching motion can hold his own and repeat as one of the NL’s premier back-end starters, the Brewers would be one step closer to repeating as NL Central champions.
2012 RtB Predictions: 33 GS, 215 IP, 12-12, 3.82 era, 138 SO, One Man Wolfpack.