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Saturday, October 26, 2013

2013 World Series Game 3 Thoughts

Game 3 of the 2013 World Series will be underway shortly, as the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals will battle to become the last team standing this season.

So far, each team has taken a game in rather convincing fashion. Even though it has been a thoroughly entertaining series, both teams suffered from errors and poor decisions in their respective losses.

The third game will take place in St. Louis following the first two contests going down in Boston. Tonight will be a clash of right-handers, as veteran Jake Peavy will take the mound for the Red Sox, and young Joe Kelly toes the rubber for the Cards.

Here are a few things to look out for tonight:

***Kelly doesn’t have swing-and-miss stuff. With 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings this year, he relies more on pitching to contact. His stuff is headlined by a fastball that averaged 94.8 mph this season, but may be a bit flat. He is hittable, as evidenced by his 1.36 WHIP, which is unordinary high given his velocity and 2.69 ERA.

***Converted from relief earlier this year, Kelly still doesn’t have the stamina of a front-of-the-rotation type of starter. He has only exceeded 100 pitches in a game five times this season (with a high of 109), and the last time he did was almost two months ago—September 6th.

Further giving hope that Boston’s lineup can get to him is the .810 OPS he has permitted to batters between pitches 51-75 this year, and the .757 mark he has allowed on pitches 76-100. Waiting him out could really pay off, but would also mean the Cardinals would then dip into their excellent bullpen.

***Boston shortstop Stephen Drew is in the midst of a horrid slump at the plate, having gone just 4-for-42 with 15 strikeouts this postseason. Look for him to finally snap out of it in Game 3. He has played against a lot of strikeout pitchers so far during the playoffs, and should have somewhat easier pitches to hit against Kelly.

***Mike Carp hasn’t gotten enough playing time this postseason. The left-handed hitter has had just six hitless at-bats for the Red Sox. However, the .904 OPS he had during the regular season against right-handers should be enough to get him a few more plate appearances. Instead, manager John Farrell has given Jonny Gomes the lion’s share of at-bats because of gut feelings and perceived luck—whatever that means.

***With Peavy coming off a rough last start where he gave up seven runs in just three innings in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, the Red Sox need to do whatever they can to make sure he is comfortable. One thing that might have helped was starting David Ross at catcher instead of Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who is in the starting lineup).

Peavy had a 2.75 ERA in three starts with Ross this year, compared to a 4.64 mark in five starts with Salty. It’s a small sample size but is hard to overlook, especially with the pitcher needing some confidence after getting rocked last time out.

***Right-hander Clay Buchholz is tentatively slated to start Game 4 for Boston despite numerous reports citing fatigue and possible injury. Not knowing what he can give, the Red Sox will need to manage their bullpen very carefully tonight. That includes avoiding guys like Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster if possible, as they are the most likely candidates to throw multiple innings if Buchholz can’t go or is knocked out early.

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