– I’ll say this: Joe Kelly is the most interesting player on the Red Sox roster this year. Most interesting to watch, at least. Anything could happen on any given night. Literally, anything. His stuff is electric, he has plenty of personality and you just don’t expect 98 mph lasers to shoot forth from his arm. But they do.
You also don’t really expect a guy with his strikeout potential to give up runs and hits in huge bunches. But he does.
The WEEI radio team spent the better part on an inning discussing why he doesn’t have “swing-and-miss” stuff during his start against Toronto earlier this. A start in which he struck out 10 batters. I don’t think the question is his stuff. It’s his focus. Maybe. Or his location. I’m leaning toward focus. He tends to give up runs early on, and make routine fielding plays more exciting than they have to be. But he’s locked in, I’ve been left wondering if he’s not the best pitcher in baseball. When he’s locked in. Tonight, another high-run yield. And again, some high points. To me, his is the most intriguing storyline as the season progresses. If he can find that focus, look out. I’m going to enjoy watching it either way.
Napoli vs. Nava
– As trade bait for starting pitching keeps getting bandied about, it’s puzzling to me that Mike Napoli’s name doesn’t get floated out there. Stick with me on this one. What does Napoli offer that Nava can’t? Power?
But is it really power? Or are we hanging on to the idea of Napoli’s power? His home run totals have dwindled consistently since his career high of 30 in 2011 (24 in 2012, 23 in 2013, 17 last year and so on). Granted, injuries and health problems have been a part of that, but he’s also been in the heart of a pretty nasty lineup.
Discount the idea of power, and Nava suddenly becomes a very statistically comparable player at first base. The clear advantage I see in Napoli is his ability to consistently grind-out extra pitches from an at-bat, which I love. I just wonder if a trade package involving Napoli brings in a higher return while not charging a downgrade to Boston’s current lineup or farm system.
Hey, these guys can fight
This was something I really liked about the 2013 squad – and last year’s squad for that matter. Even in the face of a sizeable deficit, as Boston showed tonight, they’re content to scratch away at a lead and see what happens from there. It served the 2013 well in the playoff run – an intangible, hard-to-quantify quality that somehow makes all the difference – and I saw flashes of it in a bridge 2014. The same character showed through tonight for a couple innings tonight in the face of an 8-0 deficit. At some point, the breaks will start to go the other way.