Today, Joe Kelly took the mound in Ft. Myers, and it didn’t go well; he gave up seven hits in 2 2/3 innings before leaving with an injury currently being called biceps tightness
Today’s performance continued a trend from his two previous spring training starts, as he’s now allowed 17 hits in 7 2/3 innings this spring; his spring training ERA currently stands at 11.05. On their own, the results aren’t a big deal, but when you combine it with a potential injury, it might be fair to say that Kelly’s spot could be up for grabs at this point.
Of course, any time the Red Sox rotation is mentioned, people will invariably bring up Cole Hamels, but Boston continues to seem uninterested in meeting the Phillies price, and they do have some interesting alternatives in-house. While youngsters Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez are the two best long-term prospects and might be ready for an audition, John Farrell has made sure the beat writers keep Steven Wright‘s name in the picture as well. Per Alex Speier, from this morning:
The Sox would not be opposed to adding a veteran starter to their Triple A rotation. But Farrell again expressed confidence in Steven Wright as a depth starter. “He gives us a lot of comfort. As that knuckleball has come along, he’s throwing a lot more strikes,” Farrell said. “He’s got the ability to give a contrast of style.”
Projecting the performance of knuckleballers is not quite impossible, but is something kind of close to it. Wright could be very good — as he was in a September trial last year — or he could be terrible, with pretty much any result in between seemingly equally likely. Knuckleballers are lottery tickets, especially ones with spotty track records and iffy command. Dickey’s success came after he cut his walk rate in half, which Wright appears to have done in Triple-A last year, but we essentially have half a minor league season and a month of big league action where Wright showed a consistent ability to throw strikes. If he’s not throwing strikes, he’s not any good, and it’s not a big surprise that the Red Sox wouldn’t want to count on his 2014 command improvement carrying over when trying to win in 2015.
But there are a couple of reasons why I think it might make sense for the Red Sox to give Wright a shot, especially if Kelly needs replacing on the Opening Day roster: his Z-Contact% and the knuckleball carryover effect.
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