I think it's possible the 2011 Brewers were the perfect fit for Randy Wolf.
Last year, the Brewers probably attached a little too much hope to their big free agent signing. Wolf was coming off a great year with the Dodgers in 2009, pitching 214.1 innings and posting a 3.23 ERA on a team that also had Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda and a breakout season from 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw. Wolf came to the Brewers and was forced to anchor a pitching staff that didn't have many quality parts around him, settling in as the #2 starter in front of the likes of Dave Bush, Manny Parra and Doug Davis among others.
With Yovani Gallardo, Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke pitching in front of him this season, Wolf thrived at the back end of the rotation. His walk rate dropped noticeably from 3.6 per nine innings to 2.8, he saw a slight dip in his home run rate and he posted a 3.69 ERA while making 33 starts.
Wolf's largest source of value as a Brewer has been his ability to eat innings. He pitched a career-high 215.2 in 2010 and followed it up with 212.1 in 2011. He's only the 12th Brewer in franchise history to pitch 210 or more innings in back to back seasons, and only the fourth since 1990:
Breaking 200 innings each of the last two seasons has netted Wolf an extra $500,000 in contract incentives.
Wolf still has one year left on his contract with the Brewers, which will pay him $9.5 million in 2012. He also has a $10 million club option for 2013 with a $1.5 million buyout. As things stand right now he'll be the third highest paid Brewer in 2012, behind only Zack Greinke ($13.5 million) and Rickie Weeks ($11 million).
Wolf had some excellent performances in the regular season this year. On August 15, for example, he pitched eight shutout innings in a 3-0 Brewer win over the Dodgers. He also pitched seven scoreless innings in a pitcher's duel against the Cubs on June 13, a game the Brewers ended up losing 1-0.
Looking back, though, his most memorable positive contribution has to be his seven inning outing against the Cardinals in Game 4 of the NLCS. With the Brewers looking like they might backslide their way out of the playoffs, Wolf steadied the ship and helped the Brewers even the series.
Here are the highlights from his performance: