After signing this offseason, Randy Wolf did little to earn his large paycheck throughout the first half of 2010.
In his first 21 starts in Milwaukee, Wolf was bad. Actually, Wolf was beyond bad. After those starts, Wolf was 7-9 with an ERA of 5.12. Even more alarming was Wolf's peripherals. His walks were up (63 in 128 IP) and strikeouts had drastically dropped below his career average (82 in 128 IP).
With those struggles, Wolf managed an incredible WAR of -1.1 in that span. Needless to say, the Brewers weren't receiving much of a return on their $29.75 million investment.
When the Brewers signed Wolf, I wasn't entirely blown away. He was a good pitcher who had shown the ability to possess good control, while striking batters out. He was surely an upgrade over the 2009 staff, but the cost wasn't cheap. Shelling out $30 million is always risky, but Wolf seemed like an alright gamble. But after his first half struggles, that contract began to look Suppan-esk. For his first half performance, I gave Wolf an F and deservedly so.
Then, Randy Wolf started pitching more like Randy Wolf.
Start after start Wolf started showing some of his old form. It started on July 26th against the Cincinnati Reds where Wolf went seven very strong innings, striking out five, while walking one. He surrendered just two runs in that game and the Brewers went onto beat the Reds 3-2.
After that, it was like Wolf was again ready to pitch. Between that start and Wednesday's win over those same Reds, it's been an entirely different Wolf on the mound.
In his past 11 starts, Wolf is 6-2 with a 2.57 ERA. What's been even more impressive to me has been his control throughout that stretch. He has walked just 22 batters in 73.2 innings and fanned 53. That also includes one terrible start where Wolf walked five batters without recording a strikeout, which heavily detracts from just how good he has been of late. In those 11 starts, Wolf has managed a 1.6 WAR. For the season,
Wolf's WAR for the season now stands at 0.5. Surely that's not what the Brewers were expecting when they signed him, but Wolf has managed to salvage what would have been one of the most disappointing years for a Brewers pitcher in recent memory.
Going forward, I have a lot more confidence in Randy Wolf. That's something I couldn't have said with a straight face just two months ago.