By Jon Weisman
Brian Wilson has been pretty strong for the Dodgers for some time now, as Mike Petriello underscores at Dodgers Digest today. Since May 14, Wilson has a 2.05 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings and an opponents’ OPS of only .570.
Both Petriello in his piece and Orel Hershiser on television have commented on Wilson’s increased use of the curveball, with Hershiser saying at first he thought Wilson might be mixing in the knuckleball he showed in Spring Training. Hershiser later said he was mistaken, but in a conversation I had with Wilson in the Dodger clubhouse July 31, the 32-year-old reliever said he still thinks about reinventing himself as a knuckleballer someday.
“As a reliever,” Wilson said, “we always work on other pitches, whether it be a curveball, slider, changeup, and come gametime we go with what we feel works. I’ve implemented other pitches here and there.”
While Wilson is essentially holding the knuckleball in reserve, it’s not far from his mind.
“That’s a pitch that I’m just letting the league know that in case one day they’re interested in a starter, I can throw a knuckleball,” he said. “Not to be funny or as a joke – it’s a real pitch. Yeah, I wouldn’t mind starting one day, try that routine out at the professional level. I did it in the minors – I mean, it’s similar, not to the stakes of Major League competition.
“A knuckleball does nothing to your arm, so I could do it tomorrow — provided everything works out. You still have to get outs – it’s not like, ‘Oh, he throws a knuckleball, he’s going to play for 10 years.’ That’s still got to be a competitive pitch.”
Wilson noticed earlier this season when Detroit infielder Danny Worth showed off a knuckleball in a ninth-inning emergency appearance on the mound for the Tigers.
“If you look, a lot of position players will screw around and throw knuckleballs, and apparently he had a pretty decent one, which I ended up witnessing,” Wilson said. “It’s actually a pretty good pitch.”