Game 116, Mariners at Red Sox
Mike Montgomery vs. Joe Kelly, 4:10pm
The Red Sox were coming off of a disappointing 2014 and knew they needed pitching. They’d picked up Eduardo Rodriguez and today’s starter Joe Kelly at the 2014 deadline, and then they spent the off-season on a trade spree – they got Robbie Ross from Texas in exchange for Anthony Ranaudo. They picked up Wade Miley from Arizona for two prospects. Finally, they signed Rick Porcello for an eye-popping 82.5 million deal over 4 years. This year -after all of that – their pitching is worse.
What makes their overhaul so interesting is that the Sox didn’t appear to select pitchers based on their current traits or strengths. Rather, they brought them in and tried to re-mold them into something new. Like many of these guys (notably Porcello), Joe Kelly really is different. But “new” Joe Kelly is pretty clearly worse than the one they traded for. With St. Louis, Kelly used an extremely fast sinker to rack up ground balls, and while he didn’t have the control to limit walks or the breaking stuff to rack up K’s, Kelly fared OK. The Sox saw the velo and wanted to trade some contact for whiffs; after throwing 3 sinkers for every 4-seamer with the Cards, that ratio’s down to 55:45 with Boston. As you’d expect, that’s pushed Kelly’s GB down from over 50% to the low 40’s. While Kelly’s been a touch unlucky on HR/FB, you have to figure at least SOME of those “extra” fly balls would creep over the fence. To make matters worse, after years of “beating” his FIP in St. Louis, his ERA is scraping 6, over 1.6 full runs higher than his 4.29 FIP.
His BABIP is high, especially against righties, but a part of that could be the result of moving away from his bread-and-butter sinker. More worryingly, his breaking balls are getting hit hard by righties, who’ve posted a .383 wOBA against him this season. Like Porcello, perhaps, Kelly *looks* like he should be good – he’s among the tougher hurlers the M’s will see among pitchers with replacement-level fielding-dependent stats.
1: Jackson, CF
2: Seager, 3B
3: Cruz, DH
4: Cano, 2B
5: Smith, RF
6: Montero, 1B
7: Morrison, LF
8: Miller, SS
9: Sucre, C
Adrian Sampson leads Tacoma against ex-Angel/Brave pitcher Tommy Hanson of Sacramento today (if it’s playable).
Jimmy Gilheeney, Tyler Pike, Eddie Campbell and Luiz Gohara take the mound for the other M’s affiliates.