Curt Schilling

Curt Schilling on D&C: 'There's no ceiling to the numbers if [Joe Kelly] had a baseball IQ'

June 08, 2016 - 6:13 am
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Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, making his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Wednesday morning, heaped praise upon the Red Sox offense while questioning the mental makeup of recently demoted (and now injured) pitcher Joe Kelly. To hear the interview, go to the D&C audio on demand page. Kelly, who suffered a groin injury during his start Tuesday night in Pawtucket, was sent down to Triple-A last week after his last start for Boston, another disappointing development in the talented right-hander's career with the Red Sox. "There's a term that I think a lot of baseball players know and have used for a long time called baseball IQ," Schilling said. "It's just acumen for the sport. It's the ability to learn, adapt. The analogy I use ... if you're ever put a puzzle together, you lay the pieces out on the table, and eventually you get to the place where you can see the pieces and where they're going. I always looked at pitching as very much the same thing: Here's my three, here's my four pitches, here's the lineup I'm facing, and here's how the puzzle fits together for me to shut you down. "I think Joe Kelly looks at the puzzle pieces and then chews gum and goes cross-eyed. I don't think that there's the baseball acumen, the baseball IQ. Somebody who has that good of stuff -- and listen, he's got three wipeout pitches. I'll tell you right now, he's got better stuff top to bottom than I ever had -- 97 [mph fastball], he's got a wipeout slider, a phenomenal changeup and a good curveball. Almost like Clay Buchholz at the beginning." Part of Kelly's problem, Schilling explained, is his inability to be smart about his pitch usage. "Joe Kelly goes out in the first inning and shows you all four of his pitches inside of the first five minutes of the game, as if he's pitching with a life vest on and he feels like he's going to drown if he doesn't go to the well immediately," Schilling said. "Whereas it's just going out and getting a feel. For me, the first inning is, hey, my fastball needs to be the four pitches I want it to be, and if I've got the other two it'll be great. You're not going to see a lot until the fifth or sixth inning, the second time around. Kelly's emptying the tool chest in the first inning, which a young pitcher will do. He's not a young pitcher, though. "At the end of the day, I keep going back to the fact that when the St. Louis Cardinals trade a person that you think is extremely talented, there's issues. Shelby Miller. Joe Kelly. So, I haven't seen him get smarter. I haven't seen him get smarter. And that's the frustrating thing, because he's a guy that there's no ceiling to the numbers if the guy had a baseball IQ." The Red Sox opened a two-game series against the Giants on Tuesday night with a 5-3 victory in 10 innings. "Last night was just another method for them to beat you," Schilling said. "You can't pitch to this offense for 10 or 11 or 12 innings and hope that it turns out all right. It generally is not going to, because this offense is just -- it was Sandy Leon last night, who just showed up. I didn't even know he was on the roster, and he ends up getting the big hit. "They're good. Their offense is just so good. There's no hole in the lineup for the most part. ... This lineup is not going to be held down for any length of time." Next up is a showdown between David Price and Giants ace Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday night. "To me, you're going to get a little sneak preview of October," Schilling said. "For me, when these games came along -- and clearly Boston's being talked about as one of best teams in the game -- as a pitcher, I'm up for this. And I'm going up against their ace? I'm expecting Madison to show up tonight. And David's got to do the same thing." The Red Sox reportedly are looking for another starting pitcher to shore up the rotation. There was speculation that they would make a push for James Shields, but the White Sox acquired the veteran from the Padres last week. Schilling said the Red Sox did not need to pursue Shields to secure a postseason berth. "They're going to win the division. ... They're going to hit their way through a lot," Schilling said. "Yeah, their pitching has to clean up, I totally agree. But I was glad that the White Sox got Shields and not the Red Sox." Schilling would prefer that the Sox make a move for a more reliable pitcher such as Rays ace Chris Archer, which might seem unlikely as the teams are rivals in the AL East. "If you look around baseball, you can't look at the pitchers that people are talking about trading, because Boston's in a different place. Boston has the prospects and the talent to take somebody off a roster like a Chris Archer. It would be huge, the price would be enormous, and Tampa likely might not trade. But if it was [Yoan] Moncada and [Andrew] Benintendi, I bet you Tampa does it. ... That's the problem, if Boston wants to do that, they'd have to overpay inside their division, I think. But again, when you look around, it's not a conventional landscape when you look from Boston's perspective, and just like Chicago. The money's not a problem, and you have more talent than everybody else in the minor leagues." For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.