More from the AL East…
- With such little certainty in their rotation heading into the 2017 season, the Yankees need to focus on starting pitching this winter, opines ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Olney surmises that the Yankees have the financial firepower to add via free agency and should target left-hander Rich Hill as a high-upside addition to the staff. While Hill doesn’t come with much in the way of certainty himself, adding him would allow the team to enter the season with a high-upside mix of rotation arms and conserve its prospect depth and make a midseason pitching acquisition at a time when a greater number of targets will be available.
- Joe Kelly is demonstrating the potential to be a shutdown reliever for the Red Sox and could develop into a late-inning weapon in that role next season, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. MacPherson spoke to Red Sox pitching analyst (and former big league pitcher) Brian Bannister about Kelly, with Bannister noting that Kelly has one of the best spin rates of any pitcher in baseball on his curveball. “As a reliever, he can showcase that much more often,” said Bannister of Kelly, who has all but cut out his changeup and slider since moving to the bullpen. “It’s as impressive of a curveball as you’ll see out of anybody. It’s just a matter of finding out how far that can take him.” Kelly would like another chance at starting, however, according to MacPherson, though the Red Sox have yet to have the necessary conversations to determine if they’ll give him that chance.
- Sticking with the Boston ’pen, the Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes that the return of Koji Uehara has helped to stabilize what was once a weak point for the Red Sox and turn it into a strength. Uehara’s return, paired with Kelly’s emergence, has allowed Robbie Ross Jr. and Brad Ziegler to be used in more specialized high-leverage roles. Uehara’s strong work late in the season makes it imperative that the Sox try to re-sign him this winter, Cafardo opines, despite the fact that he’ll pitch next season at age 42.