It's very easy to fall into the trap of thinking Randy Wolf is back to his old antics after two very rough starts to begin 2011. He's back surrendering home run after home run and looks to be dealing with some of the problems that caused him a rough start to 2010. Well, looks can be deceiving.
Let's start with the obvious statement. The defense played behind Wolf this season has been pretty bad. In his last start against the Northsiders, Wolf allowed six runs, but only two were earned. It started in the fourth inning when Rickie Weeks dropped a pop up off the bat of Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez then scored on a home run from Geovany Soto. Later in the inning, Wolf surrendered a three run HR off the bat of Jeff Baker, which broke the game open. A case could be made that those runs would have never scored had Weeks caught the ball.
I don't really subscribe to that style of reasoning, but the argument could be made.
For me, Wolf's start has had some encouraging signs, but has been marred with unfortunate numbers with little chance of continuing. The first start that jumped off the page to me was the amount of fly balls that are leaving the park against Wolf. Wolf has allowed 11 fly balls this season, four of which have gone for long balls. That equates to a ridiculous HR/FB% of 36.4%.
What I take from that is something completely different and positive. When Wolf has gotten into trouble, he has allowed too many balls in the air. This season, Wolf is currently sporting a very nice 1.55 GB:FB ratio. If Wolf is able to stay anywhere near there, he will have a very good 2011.
Another good indication for future success is Wolf's continued control. After a miserable first half in 2010, Wolf was able to significantly improve his strikeout and walk numbers in the second half. He has managed to maintain those numbers after a very shaky spring training. Through his first 10 innings this season, Wolf has struck out ten batters, while walking just three.
Take Wolf's start for what is it. Any pitcher can have two bad outings. What makes a pitcher successful is prolonged success. If Wolf is able to keep up what he is doing currently, things will turn around. However, if he reverts back to his first half of 2010 form, the Brewers could be in trouble. During his time in Milwaukee, you really don't know what Randy Wolf is going to show up. One thing is for sure, facing the Pirates is a lot easier than the Reds and Cubs lineups which can thrive against left handed pitching.