Early predictions for the 2015 Red Sox rotation

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Number Five Starter: Joe Kelly

Sep 27, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly (56) walks off the mound after being relieved during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Kelly is like the slow and steady turtle that still wins the race. He will not wow anyone, he keeps low strikeout numbers and is more of an innings eater than a shutdown pitcher. But as a groundball pitcher there is room for him to succeed here at Fenway, as he did down the stretch achieving a modest 4.11 ERA in Boston that concealed the fact that he turned in six quality starts in ten appearances, and came very close to notching two more in his last three starts.

But he pitched well enough for the team to win games in his time here, earning a 4-2 record, and I think he will be a more than adequate option to round out next year’s pitching staff. And if he falters.. there are plenty of contingency options waiting in the wings such as:

Plan B) Rubby De La Rosa

The young fireballer hurled his way to early success with the team at summer’s onset, but ultimately wore himself out and fell off pretty substantially down the stretch. His stuff worked as a starter but it clearly wears him out to put his best stuff to use, and that is why I picture him in a bullpen role going forward. But he has dominant potential as a reliever and can surely make spot starts too.

Plan C) Matt Barnes

Sep 13, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Matt Barnes (68) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City won the game 7-1. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

I really want to give Matt Barnes a chance. Like Allen Webster, he has the talent to succeed in the major leagues if only as a middle to back end starter. Whether it is because Kelly is not doing well enough or Clay Buchholz implodes again, I expect Matt Barnes to be the next man up; Anthony Ranaudo proved his stuff would allow too many fly balls to succeed in Fenway and represents a good trade asset or bullpen option, Brandon Workman finally wore out his welcome in the rotation and is certainly bullpen bound, and Henry Owens is not ready, nor do I expect him to be at his age. Owens will be here soon (assuming he isn’t traded) but Barnes is very close to ready, and quite talented in his own right.