It’s no secret that last week’s trade deadline made apparent that the Red Sox are rebuilding and looking toward the future, however Ben Cherington’s moves last week have certainly led to polarizing views and were borderline controversial in hindsight. It takes a ton of guts as a GM to decide to move your top two starting pitchers no matter what the circumstances surrounding those moves were. Now that the smoke has cleared, Red Sox Nation has been speculating where the Red Sox will look for top-of-the-line pitching.
Enter Joe Kelly on Wednesday night. Kelly came with Allen Craig from St. Louis in the trade that sent John Lackey packing. Although he spent the first half of this season on the DL, he had a very solid start to his career for the Cards. He was 17-14 total in St. Louis and had an ERA of 2.69 in 15 starts during the 2013 season. There was a lot of positive talk about Kelly coming to Boston from a good deal of analysts. He’s a fastball/sinker pitcher that pitches to contact and that is just what he did Wednesday against his former team.
Kelly did get into some trouble early, but he showed real grit by brushing off a tough first inning and getting out of a jam in the second. Granted, the Red Sox aren’t exactly playing for anything significant, but there was some pressure on Kelly coming into this start. His first start for the Boston Red Sox, playing against his former team in their ballpark and the Red Sox clearly gathering as much information as possible to create a formidable pitching rotation of the future. The debate on the importance of having an “ace” will rage on, but the Boston just needs arms right now.
Also, there was the fact that he was traded for John Lackey, who like him or not, had an overall successful run with the Red Sox that culminated in a World Championship last season. If Kelly struggled, fans would have already been questioning the trade as well as Kelly’s makeup. He didn’t end up with the win, but his stellar seven innings laid the groundwork. Kelly’s final line included three hits, one run and four walks. He showed his maturity after the game as well, telling reporters, “There were some emotions there. After that first inning, I realized it was just pitching again. It’s like pitching in the playoffs. You get really excited, but once you let go of the ball, it’s just pitching again from there.”
I’m not saying we were watching Lester’s replacement Wednesday night, or even John Lackey’s. I just know that there is something there with Kelly and he will be under the control of the Red Sox for quite some time. I like what he brings to the team as far as his makeup, and I think he will be someone for Sox fans to get behind and root for. Plus, there was this from Buster Olney on Saturday during the Sox/Yankees series:
When Joe Kelly arrived in Boston Friday, he wanted to watch game as fan at Fenway. Got a seat five rows up from visitors' on-deck circle.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 2, 2014
Yeah, I think he’ll be just fine in Boston.