After winning a 10-inning affair on Friday night, the Red Sox will send Joe Kelly to the Citi Field mound Saturday to face Jacob deGrom and the Mets.
Kelly enters the contest the owner of a 5.18 ERA and 7-6 record on the season. The right-hander has made 21 starts, sandwiched around a stay on the disabled list and subsequent stint with Triple-A Pawtucket.
At the beginning of the year, Kelly was nothing short of awful, compiling a record of 2-6 and a 5.94 ERA through his first 16 starts through the end of July. The month of August, however, has come with a welcome change in performance for the 27-year-old. Kelly enters Saturday’s game riding a five-game winning streak, winning each of his five starts this month. In his four most recent outings, Kelly has compiled an impressive 1.82 ERA while striking out 20 in 24 2/3 innings.
Kelly’s last start came on Monday against the White Sox in Chicago. He tossed a season-high 7 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out four White Sox hitters. After arriving before the deadline a year ago in a trade that sent John Lackey to St. Louis, Kelly finally is seeing results to match his talent level and potential.
“I would have done what we’re doing now, mix pitches no matter who the hitter is, not just keep serving up heaters. I get a little heater happy,” Kelly explained when asked what he would have changed in his approach prior to the recent win streak. “If you’re not throwing off-speed for strikes it doesn’t matter. But I’ve been able to get it over for strikes.”
For the home team, deGrom already is one of the best starters in all of baseball in just his second season. The 27-year-old boasts a 2.29 ERA and a 12-6 record across his 24 starts this season. He has an impressive 0.943 WHIP and has held opponents to a minuscule .205 batting average against. He has struck out 161 hitters in 157 innings pitched.
DeGrom has followed up a masterful rookie campaign a year ago with an even better sequel. The right-hander finished 2014 with a 9-6 record and 2.69 ERA en route to the National League Rookie of the Year award. A year later, deGrom’s performance is sure to earn him some well-deserved Cy Young votes.
For all his brilliance, deGrom’s most recent outing was a clunker. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Monday against the Phillies, allowing a season-high seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, including three home runs. He walked three and struck out three on the evening.
Despite the shoddy performance, deGrom escaped receiving the losing decision, as the Mets hit a ridiculous eight home runs and ended up 16-7 victors. In fact, deGrom has not taken a loss in his past eight starts, dating back to July 2 against the Cubs. As a pitcher, you’re doing something very right when a bad start increases your ERA significantly, but the figure remains below 2.30 (deGrom’s ERA was 1.98 entering his last start).
“I don’t think I located one pitch,” deGrom said after his rough outing. “Everything was down the middle and they were hitting it hard.”
Red Sox vs. deGrom (RHP)
Alejandro De Aza (3 plate appearances): .333 AVG/.333 OBP/.333 SLG, 1 strikeout
Hanley Ramirez (3): .500/.667/2.000, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 walk
Josh Rutledge (3): .333/.333/.333, 1 strikeout
Pablo Sandoval (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double
No other Red Sox have faced deGrom.
Mets vs. Kelly (RHP)
Juan Uribe (8): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout
Michael Cuddyer (5): .500/.600/.500, 1 walk
Daniel Murphy (4): .667/.750/.667, 1 walk
David Wright (4): .250/.250/.250, 1 strikeout
Yoenis Cespedes (3): .000/.000/.000
Ruben Tejada (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 strikeout
Kelly Johnson (2): .000/.000/.000
No other Mets have faced Kelly.