GM: Scott Piccoli
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3 Wins - 6 Losses - 4.23 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9.04 K/9
Just when it looked like Chris Kelly was to turn the corner and returned back to his typical form, Kelly went down in the 6th Inning against Des Moines on June 2nd with a herniated disk in his back. He had accumulated 10 strike outs in just over 5 innings and the River Monsters went on to win the game 4-3 without him. The Team Doctor is estimating Kelly will be out 8-12 weeks, giving him a decent chance to return this season. The only question is where will the River Monsters be when/if Chris Kelly returns. It's the second serious injury in 2 years for the #1 Starter
It's a devastating blow to a team that's off to it best start in Franchise history, barely holding on to 1st Place in the Heartland Division against an excellent an Omaha team. It's the first time that Twin Cities have been in First Place in June, but with only a 1 game lead it's likely they won't hold on to that lead for long. The River Monsters struggled without Kelly last season, falling as much as 10 games below .500 until Chris returned to the team after the All Star Break. Kelly was absolutely fantastic in the the second half of 2036, going 9-3 with a 2.44 ERA and .94 WHIP in 17 starts. He was the spark plug the team need to come all the back to tie for the last Wild Card spot, only to lose in a one game playoff against Long Beach. Regardless, it was a impressive run for Chris Kelly. However, Kelly didn't start 2037 like he finished 2036. Many were speculating if he's been struggling through an undisclosed injury and maybe he's been dealing with a bad back the last two months.
While Kelly has struggled through April and May, the rest of the rotation has pulled in the slack. The River Monsters Starting Rotation has the 2nd Ranked ERA in the Frick League to date with 3.77. So maybe hope isn't completely lost...
5W-3L, 2.05 ERA in 10 Starts at AAA Duluth
The Front Office has announced the recall of youngster Vlad Reichel to replace Chris Kelly in the rotation. Vlad has some success last season, throwing a 4.34 ERA in 122 innings. He started 15 games and entered 19 games in relief. The team isn't expecting miracles from Vlad, but if he can maintain around 4.50 ERA and if the team can go .500 in his starts, GM Scott Piccoli is hopeful that the River Monsters can remain competitive in the Frick League Play Off chase.
GM Scott Piccoli had the following comments on Chris Kelly and the state of the team -
"We've really tried to build a balanced team that's not too reliant on a few Star Players. I believe this season that has played that out with the Team continuing to play well despite the struggles of key players like Chris Kelly and Chris Limon. However, you can't lose a top pitcher like Kelly and not expect some road bumps. We've seen several players step up and play well and we'll need them and others to do as well if we hope to stay in the hunt"
Talk Radio shows where speculating whether long time Fan Favorite, Jessie Stewart would be called upon to replace Kelly. Jessie has been a River Monster his entire career and had several successful seasons as a #3 starter, eating innings and keeping games close. But Stewart has really seen some issues with his stuff eroding and got shelled early in the season. He spent several weeks stagnating on the bullpen, not seeing much action, so GM Piccoli put him on waivers and Stewart cleared. Now, Jessie is going to get the chance to start at AAA Duluth and see if he has anything left. The Front Office is hoping he won't be needed, but if Reichel struggles he may be recalled in a pinch.
However, that might mean the season is already swirling the drain...
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such a shame about Kelly. He's so young.
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