Cards’ “Worst” Starter vs. Peavy–Game Three


The probable pitchers for Game Three tonight are #3 and #4 rotation slot guys; Peavy is the one who walked in a run on a 3-0 count and lost to the Tigers; Joe Kelly is the one that Fangraphs called “…the team’s worst starting pitcher.”


So, what can we expect in a game that will create a 2-1 advantage for the winner and a “must win” situation for the other.

First, let’s assign our proprietary raw score from [0-1500] and then we will add the Baseball Cube numbers and commentary.


915                       875

Now, here are the Baseball Cube ratings by category:

Control   K-rating     Efficiency   vsPower











Q:  Why did Kelly best Peavy in the vsPower category?

He does well against power hitters; he doesn’t cough up the HRs; of the 80 starting pitchers who threw at least 500 sinkers. Kelly was the only one who did not give up a HR, says Baseball Prospectus.

Now, the combined numbers:

PEAVY [1,157] vs. KELLY [1,114]

Now, let’s factor in some details from the flesh and blood plane.

Manager Matheny was confident enough to make Kelly the Game 1 starter in the NLCS against the Dodgers, where:

“His stuff showed great life with a 96 mph sinker, sharp curveballs and sliders, and a sweet changeup that he used for a couple strikeouts.  Kelly’s start had blemishes too – namely wildness…Kelly spent more time playing in the dirt than a five-year-old boy, bouncing 12 out of 95 pitches.” Mostly curves, some hitting the grass in front of the batter’s box.

“Over the last two years, out of 188 starters to have thrown at least 100 innings, Kelly ranks 12th in average fastball velocity, coming in at 94.5.”

“Worse still, he’s had Zito’s walks. Kelly’s saving grace — if you look past his ERA — has been that he’s kept balls on the ground. He hasn’t allowed himself to get too hurt, especially in would-be run-scoring situations.”

“…with Joe Kelly is the same thing that’s been going on with Henderson Alvarez. Alvarez has a live, hard-throwing arm, unleashing sinkers with tail and bite and pleasing aesthetics.”


Kelly will throw a disproportionate number of sinkers, especially when he needs a ground ball for a double play. The Baseball Prospectus PITCHf/x leaderboard, this year’s 80 starting pitchers threw at least 500 sinkers. Kelly was the only one who did not give up a HR.

His overall strikeout rate was 13% with the bases empty and 19% with runners in scoring position.

His ground ball percentage is 51%.

Kelly’s not concerned with running up Ks; his goal is to pitch to contact for ground balls, which mask his high W stats.

Kelly has a 84% contact rate and K’s just 15% of his outs.

LISTEN:  He may put runners on, but, if he’s on his game, the rallies will be killed by ground ball outs and double plays.  If Kelly is not on his game, he will walk runs in and the Red Sox “grinder” approach at bat will quickly run up his pitch count.

Matheny will have Shelby Miller warming in the pen at the first sign that Kelly has lost his control and Miller may pitch more innings than Kelly tonight.


This will be his first World Series start and we will make the case that Peavy’s performance was atypical; it was a fluke; it was an anomaly.

In Game 4 of the ALCS in that pivotal 2nd inning six Tigers reached base and five Tigers scored.

Jake Peavy only walked three but they were bunched in sequence of four consecutive batters.

Add the anomalous muff by Pedroia, followed by a couple of hits, and Peavy was done.

It was just the sixth bases-loaded walk of Peavy’s career.

Peavy has walked a batter with the bases loaded on four pitches only once.  Mysteriously, he could not even throw the “mercy strike” on the 3-0 count.

His Post-season stats do not inspire confidence:
























1100003.05770031.3572.673.00TOTALS018.312200008.2 108800




               12 5 4.17  2323 2   0       0   0      144.2 1307067202360121.2381.15    0.57

But, his most recent “large sample,” the 2013 season [see above] provides some hope.  His K/W ratio is a very good at 3.6 to 1.

He was also 4-1 in his last 10 regular season starts:














His horror show outing against the Tigers was a confluence of anomalies and it is more accurate to project tonight’s performance on the basis of the large sample stats presented above.

  • To get a W, Peavy will need the Sox to score 5 or more runs.
  • Peavy will need to pitch around Carlos Beltran, who “owns” him. In 25 PAs: .400/.480/.800 with three doubles, a triple a home run and four walks against just four strikeouts; all in Peavy’s 2009 Cy Young season.
  • If Peavy has his control and can spot his pitches precisely, especially sliders, cutters, and change-ups, he can strike Beltran out. Peavy mostly locates these pitches low and low-and-inside against lefties and that is the area of the zone where Beltran is most susceptible to striking out (per Brooks Baseball’s zone charts) Beltran does not do well against fly ball pitchers like Peavy.

Despite the low expectation for both starters, the game could be a pitching duel and a Quality Start for both pitchers.

Sox fans should worry about the Middle Reliever Battle; the Cards have a young, but very talented group:

  • S. Maness   Rookie [25] 2013: 5-2, 2.32, WHIP 1.25, K/W 35/13, GO/AO 4.40, 62 IP.
  • K. Siegrist LHP, Rookie [24] 2013: 3-1, 0.45, WHIP 0.88, K/W 50/18, GO/AO 0.89, 39.2 IP.
  • C. Martinez Rookie [25] 2013: 2-1, 5.08, WHIP 1.41, K/W 28/11, GO/AO 1.59, 28.1 IP.

Also, there is a pair of veterans:

R. Choate   One of only 3 LHPs on the roster [all relievers]; the Dean of the Pen with 13 MLB seasons as a “One Lefty Batter” specialist.  2013: 2-1, 2.29, WHIP 1.05, K/W 28/11, GO/AO 2.52, 35.1 IP.

J. Axford Veteran [30], former closer for Brewers [105 SVs], 2013: 7-7, 4.02, WHIP 1.52, K/W 65/28, GO/AO 1.12, 65 IP.

With Tazawa reserved for the set-up role, the Sox must entrust their fate to:

  • R. Dempster Twilight Veteran [39]; 85 SVs from 2005-2007 for Cubs; 2013: 8-9, 4.57, WHIP 1.45, K/W 157/79, GO/AO 0.91, 171.1 IP.
  • F. Doubront  LHP, Primarily a Starter;4-2 in last 10 starts; 2013: 11-6, 4.32, WHIP 1.43, K/W 139/71, GO/AO 1.08, 162.1 IP.
  • F. Morales  LHP [27]; labeled a “swing man,” since he can start or relieve; moods cause inconsistency; you never know which Franklin Morales is showing up.  2013: 2-2, 4.62, WHIP 1.54, K/W 21/15, GO/AO 0.58, 25.1 IP.
  • B. Workman Rookie [25]; once projected as starter; 2013: 6-3, 4.97, WHIP 1.42, K/W 47/15, GO/AO 0.80, 41.2 IP.  Good 3-1 K/W ratio, but still a work in progress.

When Farrell goes to the pen phone, does he hear Clint Eastwood’s voice above the crowd?

“Are you feelin’ lucky?”

The Sox WIN, if:

  • They stay with their disciplined “grind out ABs/run up pitch counts approach.
  • Kelly is not wild and walking batters and bouncing balls to allow runner to advance into scoring position.
  • They score 5, or more runs and Peavy is just average [4.17 ERA in 2013].
  • Papi can remember how to play 1b, after a long hiatus and avoid hitting into DP.
  • They are patient at the plate and not swinging at borderline sinkers.
  • They use their running game advantage to avoid double-plays.

The Odds makers like the Sox [MINUS 1.5 runs] and say they will not get more than 10 hits; since they will not hit an HRs against Kelly, they may need more than 10 hits and some aggressive base running to beat the Cards.

FACT:  The team that wins Game Three of the World Series, has a 2 out of 3 chance of winning the Commissioner’s Trophy.