Fans Should Be Excited About Joe Kelly

Joe KellyAt the trade deadline, after Boston traded both John Lackey and Jon Lester, it appeared as though they had given up. This was not the case however. In fact, they were preparing for the future. Acquiring three proven Major Leaguers—Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, and Joe Kelly—Boston showed the are still competing, just not this year. The outfield is now loaded with talented and the rotation is filled with younger guys and only one veteran in Clay Buchholz. Of all the men Boston received at the deadline, Joe Kelly flew under the radar the most, but is the most intriguing of them all.
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Red Sox fans remember Joe Kelly for his valiant effort last postseason in the World Series against Boston. He pitched well in 5 2/3 innings of work, allowing two runs on two hits, walking three, punching out six. He earned a no decision despite pitching well as his team came out on top 5-4.

Limited to seven starts so far this year due to a hamstring injury, Kelly is in the middle of a down year, but Boston is not banking on him being the Joe Kelly of 2014; they want the Joe Kelly of 2013. This year, Kelly is pitching effectively, but not great. In 35 innings of work his ERA stands at 4.37 while he has fanned 25 men and walked ten. It is worth noting though, he has given up just three home runs on the year. A year before though, the now 25-year-old served as a swing man for St. Louis, a role in which he thrived. In 37 appearances, including 15 starts totaling 124 innings, Kelly owned a 2.69 ERA despite punching out only 79 hitters. In his MLB career, he owns a 3.25 ERA in 68 games, 38 of which were starts.
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In the Red Sox rotation, it appears as though Kelly will take over as the Red Sox No. 2 starter. Right now, granted they seem to have given up on this season, the order of the rotation is not as important as who is pitching. Kelly will be getting starts for Boston once every five days for the rest of the season. It is uncertain when he makes his first start for the Red Sox although he last pitched on July 30th.

The sinkerballer will fare well at Fenway Park as it is widely considered a hitter’s park. Since Kelly forces more ground outs than fly outs, the odd dimensions of Fenway park will not affect him as much as they do some other pitchers. One in mind who struggled at Fenway a bit is former Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy who is known as a fly ball pitcher.
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Kelly is still very young, and the future is bright for him. It was a smart move by Boston to swap Lackey for a bat and a young pitcher who is a potential ace. Expect a big year out of Kelly in 2015 and for him to finish this one strong. When healthy, Kelly is a great pitcher making him a perfect fit for the future of the Red Sox rotation.

Edward Mujica Not As Advertized

Edward MujicaThrough 22 games, Edward Mujica has really struggled to solidify a role in the Boston Red Sox bullpen. The former closer for the St. Louis Cardinals was signed for two years at $9.5 million and has shown that the regression moving from the NL to the AL is something to be worried about.

In 2013, the 30-year-old claimed the closer’s role in the early going and saved 37 contests with a solid 2.78 ERA in 65 contests. He allowed batters to hit at a .245 clip with just five walks and 46 strikeouts in 64.2 innings of work.

Those numbers were against National League opponents and Mujica has really struggled getting acclimated to the American League lineups on a regular basis.

The 7.29 ERA is the worst among relievers on the Red Sox with more than one appearance on the season. The .322 average against is the worst of his career since 2007 with the Cleveland Indians in limited opportunities. The right-hander has walked seven already in 2014 and the 1.67 WHIP is the worst of his career. The 2-2 mark helps him some, but his most recent loss against the Indians is a microcosm of what his season has been like with the Red Sox.

With the rest of the bullpen pitcher’s really solidifying their roles, John Farrell and the rest of the management staff needs to either find a way to place Mujica on the DL or just sending him to Triple-A to work on whatever is going on with his delivery.

Those options need to be decided on fast because the 30-year-old reliever should not be trusted in any type of situation except if the Red Sox are being blow out.

The Wake Up Call: An Obstruction that Cost the Game

obstruction

Game 3, bottom of the ninth, Allen Craig stumbles over Will Middlebrooks and third base umpire, Jim Joyce signaled for obstruction

It was a night to remember for sure. I, unfortunately, did not watch the game, but I surely got a wake up call. It was 10:00 in the morning; yes, call me an unsupportive Red Sox fan, but due to unfortunate circumstances in more ways than one, I did not know what happened until my phone rang this morning and there was a very livid Red Sox fan on the other side. Truly, I thought someone had died! “You don’t know what happened?” He asked in a very frustrated, annoyed and anxious voice. “What!?” It took him a moment to get it out. My hands began to shake and my heart began to race. Knowing after a moment he was referring to last night’s game, I replied, “Did somebody get hurt?” ” I can’t believe you don’t know what happened, but no, no one got hurt.” “Well thank God for that.”

It was the bottom of the ninth and Pedroia made an astonishing play to get Yadier Molina of the Cardinals out at home. Saltalamacchia proceeded to atempt a double play and threw to Middlebrooks at third to make the second out. Middlebrooks unfortunately fell to the ground in lieu of Salty’s throw, but the play was made by backup Daniel Nava no matter. “Safe!” gestured the home plate umpire, Dana DeMuth . Craig blatantly was not safe, but the third base umpire, Jim Joyce, claimed Middlebrooks had obstructed the runner’s passage. This was not the result all of Boston fans wanted.

There were other moments in the game and other decisions that were made to cause anxiety for us fans, but the final call was just too much for some of us to handle, including my friend on the other side of the phone this morning. For instance, where was Mike Napoli when we needed him? Benched!? Why did Farrell put Workman in the lineup when he could have easily replaced him with Napoli, a much stronger hitter? 1,2,3 strikes he’s out. Workman didn’t just strike out, but he struck out looking.

2-1 Cardinals. Again, these teams – the Red Sox and the Cardinals – and specifically the umpires are not making  this easy for us Bostonians to stomach. The question now is, will the Red Sox persevere or will they crumble? I don’t even think this is a question of concern. The Sox don’t have defeatist attitudes. In fact they have quite the opposite. If anything they may lose one more game to keep us on the edge of our seats, but that’s as far as it goes. They are a strong bunch of guys and they don’t lose easily. They will persevere and fight to the final inning of the final game back home, in Boston.

So fans, prepare yourselves for the roller coaster ride of your life. There are potentially four games left of the series. We’re not even half way through. Let’s keep the energy flowing and forget about what happened, bad call or not, it happened.

Jonny Come Never? Time to bench Gomes

Beard Gomes

I love Jonny Gomes. I’ll love him even more on the bench for Game 3 in St. Louis.

Forget the fact the Sox are 6-1 when he starts this postseason. Forget all the intangibles. The beer helmet. His humor. Heck, let’s even forget his beard.

We need to focus on one thing here — his production.

Or, lack thereof. Gomes is 0-for-7 in this World Series with a strikeout. He hit .188 in the ALCS against Detroit and .222 in the divisional round against Tampa.

And before we crown him Mr. October, he doesn’t have a World Series ring and is batting .128 (5-for-39) with two RBI and 12 strikeouts in three years of postseason baseball. He was 0-for-7 with three strikeouts with Cincinnati and Oakland heading into this October.

And it’s not as if his defense is a good enough reason to leave his ailing bat in the lineup (ala Stephen Drew at shortstop).

It’s time for Daniel Nava to get back into the lineup. He’s simply better than Gomes. He batted .303 this regular season (to Gomes’ .247), and is at a .308 clip this postseason (4-for-13). He’s better than Gomes in left field, too.

This isn’t a Gomes Hate Campaign. It’s just time to realize that production is more important than “presence,” especially on the biggest stage.

Further, Gomes had four homers and seven RBI this season in pinch-hit roles. If we need him late in the game, he’s a good option off the bench — but certainly second behind Mike Napoli, who unfortunately will be on the bench for Game 3 with Big Papi having to play first without a DH.

I agree Jonny’s presence helps the team — but, right now, his presence in one important area is killing the Sox — in the batter’s box.

World Series Games 1 and 2

World Series Games 1 and 2

Lester v. Wainright in Game 1 of the World Series

World Series Games 1 and 2 could not have been more different.

Wednesday night, during Game 1, the Red Sox made the game of baseball look all too easy; game 2 not so much. St. Louis pitcher Michael Wacha silenced Boston bats, and defense lacked the crisp plays that we saw in Game 1. The silver lining, and statistic, is that 11 of the last 13 teams that won Game 1 of the Fall Classic, went on to win the World Series.

During Game 1, the hits came in the form of home runs and doubles leading to RBIs. Jon Lester pitched his level best, wavering a bit in his final inning with a perceivable reduction in efficacy. The defense turned plays, the best of which was a double play with the bases loaded late in the game. The toss went to home plate and then to first base. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals played defense worse than your local, pee-wee little league team. I have never seen so many botched plays. It got kind of comical for those of us who are Red Sox fans.

Turning to Game 2, it was offensive role reversal. John Lackey never seems to get the run support that he deserves. Craig Breslow followed him only to give up more hits and runs. I just don’t get why people think Breslow is so great. I feel like I am the only one that has little confidence in him. For some reason fans overlook the games where he pitches poorly.

There were many “woulda’, coulda’, shoulda’ ” moments in Game 2. The Sox could have showed more plate patience. Then again, Wacha proved himself a formidable force despite his youth. Stephen Drew should be able to bunt. Nava could have come off the bench earlier for Drew. The game was a forgone conclusion by the time they put him in to pinch hit in the 9th inning.

I feel disappointed. I’m ready for Game 3; let’s just hope Jake Peavy is too. We all know how much I love Jake Peavy.

:: Eye roll and audible sigh ::

Give him five innings John, and then put in Brandon Workman, Junichi Tazawa, and finally Koji.

What are your thoughts as the Sox head to St. Louis?