Taking a look at a potential Red Sox six-man rotation in September
Joe Kelly was an interesting trade deadline addition. A buy-low candidate in the same vein as Craig, Kelly cruised to a 2.69 ERA for the Cardinals in 2013 before faltering in 2014 (similar, yet less drastic than Buchholz), putting together a 4.37 ERA in seven starts for the Red Birds before they shipped him and Craig up to Boston for Lackey. Since donning a Red Sox uniform, Kelly has already improved on his St. Louis numbers, compiling a 3.86 ERA in five starts for Boston.
As much as it can be dangerous to remove perceived “flukes” there is one clear outlier in Kelly’s Red Sox outings: a four inning, seven earned run shelling by the lowly Astros. Take away this start and Kelly has allowed five earned runs in 24 innings across four starts. Kelly will not be an ace but he looks more than capable of being a solid third starter or a strong number four. His sinker-ball lends itself to very high groundball rates and he has enough of a secondary repertoire to wring up a few batters and eat innings. Look for the 26-year old to reprise this role in 2015, likely as a mid-rotation arm. Aside from Buchholz, Kelly is the player I am most confident to be given a rotation spot out of camp, barring a trade of course. Kelly may even be given a bit more breathing room than Buchholz given his young age and improved durability, but we have seen how aggressive Ben Cherington is with his team management. If Kelly crashes in his first full season in the competitive AL East, he will find himself shipped back to the National League (as an aside, Jake Peavy took a no hitter 7.1 innings last night and Felix Doubront put together seven strong innings of one-run baseball, for those who don’t believe in the AL/NL disparity).