Red Sox will have competition for rotation spots

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Aug 19, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly (56) throws a pitch against the Cleveland Indians in the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 19, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly (56) throws a pitch against the Cleveland Indians in the first inning at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s also the possibility that Kelly doesn’t return to the team when he’s deemed ready. If the team feels he isn’t one of their five best options, he could be left in Pawtucket until the need arises for another starter.

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Kelly could also potentially shift to the bullpen in order to punch his ticket back to Boston, but doing so likely removes him as an option to make spot starts if another member of the rotation were to fall to injury or need to be replaced due to performance issues. Even if he were to be used in a long relief role, he may not be stretched out enough to jump back into the rotation right away, depending on how long his stint in the bullpen lasts.

Besides, would Kelly really be a better option out of the bullpen than Heath Hembree or Matt Barnes? Kelly is more valuable as a starter, so ideally that remains his long-term role within the organization.

Kelly had an up-and-down 2015 season, but he ended it with an 8-game winning streak and had a solid spring heading into this season. The Red Sox are better served giving him another shot to prove he can recapture that form.

Next: Internal competition for last spot