Next year, the Boston Red Sox need starting pitcher Joe Kelly to continue his successful comeback in the later part of 2015 if they expect to win.
Christopher Smith of MassLive.com stated that “it definitely should be interesting to see how Kelly performs in 2016 after such a successful second-half run during 2015 and also with [David] Price there to provide advice.” With a top ace like Price in the rotation, Kelly should be able to learn how to command his fastball and sustain his success for the long term.
Smith also stated, “The Red Sox like Kelly a lot. They resisted trading him. They wanted him to be a part of the 2016 rotation over Wade Miley, a proven 200-inning pitcher. If Kelly can reach his potential, the Red Sox will benefit greatly as he is under team control for three more seasons. The 2016 season is his first year of being arbitration eligible.”
Kelly’s record in 2015 was 10-6 with a 4.82 ERA; however, he went 8-0 from August to his final game in September, striking out 42 opposing batters to just 17 walks. His ERA in August was a mere 2.68 in six games.
The 27-year-old righty was able to keep the ball low, forcing more groundouts than at the beginning of the year. Kelly found himself trying to rediscover his game in Triple-A Pawtucket after bleeding runs like a volcano. The ball just stayed up for him. And, according to FanGraphs.com, his 95-mph fastball looked more like a beach ball for top sluggers to smash, before the dog days of summer came around.
With Miley traded, the starters on the Red Sox depth chart are as follows: Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Kelly, Steven Wright, Henry Owens, and Roenis Elias.
That last name only has two seasons of experience with the Seattle Mariners, posting a 15-20 record and a 3.97 ERA. Owens is only 23 with a 4.57 ERA in his first season with the big club. Wright’s a knuckleball pitcher, meaning that he’s going to bleed runs slowly but maybe just enough to put the expectation of victory on the proverbial fence.
Realistically, Price is the only sure bet to perform in the starting rotation. Buchholz is coming off a season-ending injury, which puts a media cloud of doubts around him for the entire 2016 season. Rodriguez is still young, even with a great arm. And Porcello was so terrible, nobody knows what to expect from him and his huge contract flaunted in the faces of Red Sox Nation.
If the Red Sox are planning to move out of the American League East division cellar, Kelly is going to need to be a starter. With Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara, as well as a much improved bullpen, Kelly’s services will likely be more valuable on the mound at the beginning of games. If he succeeds, he would give them five starters who, potential, could have success. If he doesn’t, and Buchholz gets injured again or Porcello throws as badly as last season or Rodriguez pitches poorly in his sophomore year, then the Red Sox might want to start hanging up paintings and get cozy in that division basement. They may be there for a while.