Stan McNeal weighs in on Kelly's pitch count, Nava's impact and Ellsbury vs. Yadi
By STAN McNEALFS Midwest
ST. LOUIS --Three things to watch for in Game 3 of the World Series Saturday night:
Kelly's pitch count
With right-hander Joe Kelly starting for the Cardinals, the
Red Sox can be assured of two things. They will see a mean sinker that Kelly throws as hard as 96 mph, and they will see plenty of the Cardinals' bullpen.
In 17 starts since joining the rotation in early July, only twice has Kelly worked more than six innings. One reason was that the Cardinals did not want to extend him until he had built up a starter's arm strength. But Kelly also can nibble at the corners, which could lead to prolonged at-bats against the patient Red Sox hitters.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny opted for a quick hook with Kelly more often than not during the regular season. He figures to be even quicker to make a change in the World Series, especially with his relief corps rested following Friday's off day.
Boston's lineup will feature a fairly different look, with Mike Napoli ceding first base to David Ortiz and Daniel Nava taking over left field for Jonny Gomes. The Red Sox also could try Will Middlebrooks at third base instead of Xander Bogaerts.
The switch to Nava could help compensate for the lack of Napoli. Gomes went 0 for 7 in the first two games and did not exactly distinguish himself in the field. Manager John Farrell had stayed with Gomes because of his intangibles, but with his club hitting .188 and Gomes 0 for 7, Farrell is looking for an offensive lift.
Through the regular season, Nava proved to be far more productive against right-handed pitching than Gomes. In 397 plate appearances against righties, he hit .322/.411/.484. In 176 plate appearances, Gomes went .258/.341/.404.
Nava also can cover more ground in left field, which will be more of a factor in Busch Stadium's roomier left field than at Fenway Park.
Molina versus Ellsbury
The anticipated game-within-a-game matchup between base-stealing king Jacoby Ellsbury and strong-armed catcher Yadier Molina has yet to develop. Ellsbury has reached first base three times but hasn't attempted to steal.
"I'm waiting," Molina said Friday with a smile.
Farrell says he still would rather his team try to steal than sacrifice to advance runners, but caution has ruled so far.
"Their pitchers have done a very good job of unloading the baseball in a timely fashion to really control a running game, in addition to Yadi behind the plate," Farrell said.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at email@example.com.