The Red Sox Joe Kelly left the game in the first inning with an apparent shoulder injury.
The Red Sox may lose Joe Kelly for an extended period of time with what has been described as a shoulder impingement, which from my own personal experience can be both painful and debilitating.
Kelly lasted a mere 0.2 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night after allowing a pair of walks and a strikeout. Kelly was replaced by Heath Hembree, who was recalled from the Pawtucket Red Sox earlier in the day and after 3.1 innings of shut down pitching, he may be rewarded by a return as fresh arms will be needed.
Kelly finished 2015 with a world of promise after a miserable start to the season and a demotion to Pawtucket to get his head and arm on the same page. That excursion obviously worked as Kelly reversed his early season disappointment and finished the second half with eight straight wins before absorbing a late season loss in his last start.
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Kelly’s last 2015 start was against Baltimore, where he went only 2.1 innings, allowing five hits and three earned runs. That contest effectively ended his season with an arm issue until spring training where Kelly was arguably the most effective starter tossing 24 innings and posting a 2.63 ERA this spring.
This season Kelly has reverted to his form of the first half of 2015 with significant control issues by allowing 10 walks in only 8.2 innings. Kelly’s ERA touches on four figures and now an injury clouds his immediate future with Boston. Just who would replace Kelly?
The possible first choice Pawtucket way is Henry Owens, who went 4-4 with the Red Sox in 2015. Owens has tossed 18 innings with the PawSox allowing only eight hits and striking out 23. As usual, the one very large negative is Owens’s propensity for issuing walks and that is 10 in the 18 innings. Usually issued in batches. Owens pitched on Monday, so he would be ready to take the hill without any disruption.
Roenis Elias is another possibility, but Elias has certainly not performed up to expectations with 14 hits allowed in 9.1 innings. Fellow lefty Brian Johnson – who had one forgettable Boston start in 2015 – has fared better than Elias in his 9.1 innings, allowing 10 hits and three walks to go with nine strikeouts.
A long shot would be Sean O’Sullivan, who was 1-6 with Philadelphia in 2015, but O’Sullivan is a non-roster player so that may exclude him.
With the need for bullpen arms, you may see Edwin Escobar called up. Escobar was acquired in the 2014 Jake Peavy trade and pitched in two brief relief outings in 2014 for Boston. Arm issues in 2015 limited Escobar’s games. Noe Ramirez may also return after a one-day hiatus.
Kelly’s arm issue and the extensive use of the bullpen this April are certainly not encouraging signs.