For all the advanced analytics and highlights in his baseball resume, the most important question for Randy Wolf is this: How do his teammates feel when he gets on the mound?
The veteran of 372 career major league starts has enjoyed an All-Star season, struggled with results and twice undergone Tommy John surgery over the years. But the stats and the bio lines, along with July trade rumors, can mess with a pitcher’s mentality.
At the end of the day for Wolf, it’s all about his team.
“I’ve definitely had years where I’ve pitched really well and the win-loss record did not reflect that and that goes back to what you can or can’t control,” Wolf said.
“When you go out there and the team feels they have a good chance to win, whether or not that is a win on your record or not, the indicator is really your teammates’ opinion when you go out there to pitch. If they feel, ‘We have a good chance to win today,’ that’s really the highest compliment. But of course in the day of stats and all those analysis numbers, that can really kind of clog a guy’s mind and I think a lot of times those things get in the way.”
The stats have been in Wolf’s favor for the Bisons this season and the Herd feels pretty good when it’s his turn on the mound.
The lefty picked up his sixth win Monday night, pitching 7∏ shutout innings as the Bisons blanked the Syracuse Chiefs, 7-0, at Coca-Cola Field.
It was his longest outing of the season and his nine strikeouts were a season-best. Wolf got ahead of hitters consistently and got out of a jam after he gave up back-to-back hits to open the fifth.
But at that point the Herd had spotted him a seven-run lead. And Wolf used that to his full advantage.
“It gives you the freedom to be aggressive and make them hit the ball,” Wolf said of pitching with a big lead. “Because you kind of know if they hit a solo home run it’s not a big deal. Even if they hit a two-run home run. When you’ve got a seven-run lead it gives you the freedom to be more aggressive and throw in the zone and get a lot of the plate. That gets you a lot of strikes.”
Wolf has spent the entire season with the Herd after the Blue Jays signed him as a free agent in March.
He pitched in four different organizations last season, his first after taking 2013 off for his second Tommy John surgery.
“I felt like I’ve pitched well,” Wolf said. “I’ve been consistent and I’ve been able to go six, seven innings pretty much every time and that’s pretty much all I want to do when I get out there. Give our team a chance to win a game. That’s my focus and that’s what I want to do, go out there and throw as deep as I can in the game. There are games where I don’t have good command and your stuff isn’t that great and you try to limit the damage.
“The reason I played this year is because I knew I could still pitch. This offseason I felt great. I knew I still had the ability to pitch in the big leagues and I think I’ve come out here and proven that I can. Whether or not that is going to happen becomes more highly doubtable, but we’ll see.”