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A Big Pitch for Another Knuckleball Starter

For years, Boston's Tim Wakefield has been the Lone Ranger of the knuckleball. He toils away, racking up astonishing innings totals and a remarkable amount of wins for a pitcher nearing his 40s, thanks to a quirky pitch that only he can really get his head around (sometimes).

Well, as of tonight, he won't be alone anymore. According to, on Monday night the Dodgers plan to start AAA knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, who was promoted from Albuquerque last week. Haeger, a long shot to make the major league roster out of spring training, held minor league hitters well enough to rack up a 3.55 ERA while winning 11 games.

Will he get his first major league win in his debut? That seems profoundly unlikely. The debutante is facing off against St. Louis's Chris Carpenter in the thick of a playoff race. And he has to pitch to Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. Good luck Charlie.

Then again, if Wakefield has taught the baseball world anything about pitching a knuckleball, it's that the success of the pitch determines the success of the pitcher, not the quality of batter he's facing. In the early 2000s, Wakefield and his pitch were often at their best against some of the league's toughest lineups (predominantly the Yankees). If Haeger can channel a Wakefield-like focus, he might just be able to tap into a surprising win.

Do that, and there might just be more than one knuckleballer to marvel at.

By Cameron Smith  |  August 17, 2009; 3:46 PM ET
Categories:  Dodgers  | Tags: Cardinals, Charlie Haeger, Dodgers, knuckleball  
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and if he gets lit up he'll probably be shoved down to AAA for another 10 years.

here's hoping for the best. bring back the eephus and the knuckle!

Posted by: adampschroeder | August 17, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

After Haeger and Charlie Zink, who is the next most advanced knuckleballer in the minors?

Zink should be a minor league FA at the end of the year. He has been kept at AAA basically to train Kottaras, Brown and Wagner how to handle knuckleballers. He bombed his one shot at a spot start, but I'm sure someone will give him a try like Haeger.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | August 18, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

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