I wish this bit of news, via Jon Weisman, hadn't escaped me yesterday:
- Charlie Haeger recruited for long relief Wednesday
Jeff Weaver will start for the Dodgers on Wednesday in place of Chad Billingsley, and Charlie Haeger will replace Eric Stults on the active roster to help back Weaver up, according to word passed along by Dylan Hernandez of The Times.
A 25-year-old knuckleballer, Haeger has a 3.55 ERA for AAA Albuquerque this season. Last year in the majors, he allowed eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.
As it happens, I was watching that game yesterday. Not soon enough to see Bruce Bochy get ejected in the second inning, or soon enough to see the fifth-inning rhubarb. But soon enough to see a bit of shoddy umpiring in the ninth, and soon enough to see Panda lollygag an easy triple into a double. Soon enough, too, to see Juan Uribe's walkoff job in the 10th.
What I didn't get to see -- what I wanted to see -- was Charlie Haeger throwing some long relief. It really should have happened. Jeff Weaver is a sort of swingman now, and hadn't pitched as many as five innings since the 20th of June. Yesterday, Weaver pitched three scoreless innings, after which the parade of relievers began. Eventually, all of them -- James McDonald, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, George Sherrill, and Guillermo Mota -- would pitch in the game.
Well, almost all of them. Apparently Haeger is low man on the totem pole, as he alone didn't get into the game. Mota is capable of pitching two innings, so Haeger's chance probably would have come -- if Mota hadn't served up Uribe's home run -- in the 12th.
At the very least, I'd love to see Haeger hang on for another week or so. If Tim Wakefield's Triple-A start goes well this weekend, he'll probably rejoin the Red Sox's rotation next week. And if Haeger's still around, he and Wakefield and R.A. Dickey will make three knuckleballers in the majors at once. Which has happened in recent seasons, but far too briefly. Once we get all three of these guys for good, plus R.J. Swindle ... why, then we'll really have something.
Update: Epic fail! R.A. Dickey, who's pitched terribly over the last month, was sent to Triple-A last weekend to make room for Carl Pavano. It's like the baseball gods just won't allow three knuckleballers at once. Regardless, I'm now pinning my hopes on September ...