Red Sox Joe Kelly’s Shoulder Is Not A Concern, Anymore


In his last appearance, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly left in the third inning because of what was officially titled as shoulder tightness. Now, it appears that Kelly’s shoulder is no longer a concern, at least officially.

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Rob Bradford of reported that “it was determined the pitcher is simply dealing with some inflammation in the shoulder, which had stiffened up on him during his start against the Orioles Tuesday night.” This news will not change Red Sox interim general manager Torey Lovullo’s mind, as he stated that Kelly will still not pitch again for the rest of the season because of the issue. “The starter’s fastball to start the game was sitting at just 89-90 mph, well below his average.” So, the idea is to not bring him back just for the chance that he could make the shoulder worse.

If that’s the case, we have seen the last of Joe Kelly in 2015. That should not be too concerning, if at all. Especially since last season’s end was much more troubling than this one. In 17 starts in 2014, Kelly was 6-4 with a 4.20 ERA, after suffering an injury that made the St. Louis Cardinals believe that he was expendable. He was traded with first baseman Allen Craig to Boston for veteran pitcher John Lackey. Kelly didn’t look great to begin his time in Boston, at least compared to what the Red Sox gave up for him, giving up 28 earned runs in 10 starts. The Red Sox were hoping that he would look more like the potential stud on the mound who faced them in the 2013 World Series, earning a 10-5 record with a 2.69 ERA in the regular season.

Kelly ends this season with a 10-6 record and a 4.82 ERA in 25 starts. That seems worse than before, until you remember that eight of those wins came in a row to end the year. For the last six wins, Kelly earned a 2.21 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 40.2 innings. And, if that’s not enough, Kelly gave up only a single run in 5.2 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays, MLB’s leading offensive team, for one of those wins. Talk about pressure, keeping the favorited World Series Champion at bay in Fenway Park is a great feat at this point in his career, when many people had him slated for the bullpen, if he even would come back to the big leagues.

That’s hope. That’s a record that Kelly can work on for 2016. Who knows what the team will look like next season? Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox president of baseball operations, undoubtedly will blow up some parts of the team to rebuild a contender. When that happens, Kelly will need to be 100% healthy to compete for a starting role with the club. He might not be able to do that if he plays again, on a team who is playing out the season with no playoff aspirations. If his shoulder gets more stiff to the point of injury, his potential for the future may be history.

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