Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Last week the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals made a publicized trade that sent pitcher John Lackey from Red Sox Nation to Redbird Nation just in time for the NL Central pennant race. The Cards sent pitcher Joe Kelly and others to the Sox in exchange. Tonight, Kelly makes his first start in a Red Sox uniform…in St. Louis against his former team!
And ESPN’s cameras will be there because Red Sox/Cardinals is the Wednesday Night Game of the Week on national TV.
Obviously, we’ve got to dig deep into this one. Let’s go to the numbers…
Boston: 3.85 runs per game, .321 on-base, .374 slugging
St. Louis: 3.72 runs per game, .317 on-base, .373 slugging
It’s stunning to say this for a Red Sox/Cardinals matchup given what we’ve all witnessed in recent seasons. But, those are HORRIBLE offensive numbers! Both offenses have completely fallen off the map, and are down near the bottom of their respective leagues. St. Louis has a slight “neutral field” edge because most of their games lack a DH, and because Boston gets to play home games in Fenway Park. Boston is in fire-sale mode because their pitching couldn’t bail out their poor hitting. St. Louis is in a pennant race because of their pitching.
Shelby Miller: 4.14 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.0 K-Rate
Joe Kelly 4.37 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.4 K-Rate
Let’s start with Kelly since his awkward situation is the driving dynamic Wednesday Night. Joe only made seven starts this year for St. Louis because he wasn’t enjoying the best of health. He also hasn’t enjoyed the best of form, as you can see in those numbers above. Remember, this is a year of the pitcher, and Kelly was throwing in the league that didn’t use a DH. Those are poor numbers in that context. Boston is hoping he’ll return to the more impressive form he had shown in prior seasons when heathy. Though, they are aware that his K-Rate is never going to be amazing…and that’s a franchise that places weight on that key stat.
Miller has also been a disappointment. He’s made 21 starts…but was recently temporarily demoted to the bullpen because he just wasn’t getting the job done. He’s had two acceptable starts since returning…but really needs to pick up the pace if the Cards are going to make a successful run at the NL Central pennant or a Wildcard spot.
Worth nothing here that this is an Interleague game…and the difference between leagues could loom large in what happens between now and October. The American League is once again owning Interleague play, with a win percentage of 55% through Monday Night’s action. Lackey has come over to the Cardinals with a chance to shine against the inferior league. Kelly could end up being very overmatched against AL bats the rest of the way. He catches a break tonight because the St. Louis offense hasn’t been great this year, he’s used to these surroundings, and he won’t be facing a DH. What’s going to happen to Kelly against good AL offenses in Fenway Park?!
Let’s see how he handles tonight’s challenge. Boston has kind of thrown in the towel on the season already given their current starting rotation (last year’s whole rotation is gone!). St. Louis still needs every win it can get. Las Vegas oddsmakers know that, which will lead to a “must-win surcharge” showing up in the pricing.
JIM HURLEY may or may not post a big play in this game. There are a lot of great options on the Wednesday card, including the continuation of series we’ve already previewed for you on these pages (LA Dodgers/LA Angels and Baltimore/Toronto). And, of course, NETWORK is gearing up for the first FULL WEEKEND of NFL ACTION that begins Thursday Night!
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We’re coming up on three straight days of football here in the NOTEBOOK. We hope you already read our preview of the NFC East that ran on Hall-of-Fame Sunday. We’ll cover the rest of the NFC this week to get you ready for marquee matchups. Here’s the immediate schedule…
Thursday: NFC West Preview…to get you ready for 49ers vs. Ravens on NFLN
Friday: NFC South Preview…to get you ready for Saints vs. Rams on NFLN
Saturday: NFC North Preview to get you ready for Lions vs. Browns on NFLN
Sunday: MLB TV Preview: Washington Nationals at Atlanta Braves
We’ll mix baseball and football through the month of August. When college football arrives at the very end of the month…we’ll have almost wall-to-wall football from that point forward to keep you abreast of all major developments and big TV games in the colleges and pro’s.
Whatever the month…whatever the sport…you’re always going to get BIG, JUICY WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!