Red Sox: Joe Kelly’s low strikeout rate is becoming a concern
By Sean Penney
Joe Kelly’s blazing fastball should have made him a strikeout machine in the Boston Red Sox bullpen, yet that hasn’t been the case this season.
Joe Kelly recorded a pair of strikeouts after trotting out from the Boston Red Sox bullpen for a scoreless 1 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees last night. Normally it wouldn’t be headline news that a reliever struck out half the batters he faced in a small sample, although in Kelly’s case it represents a promising improvement.
When manager John Farrell summoned Kelly in the top of the 7th inning, Boston trailed by three runs and the Yankees had loaded the bases. Kelly managed to get Starlin Castro to ground out on a ball hit right at second baseman Marco Hernandez, although that’s probably not the scenario Farrell had in mind when he called for Kelly. Had that grounder been a few feet further away in either direction, perhaps it sneaks through for a base hit that drives in a couple more runs and puts the game essentially out of reach.
What the Red Sox really needed in that situation was a strikeout, which have been hard to come by for Kelly so far this season. While he managed to punch out two batters after staying in for the eighth inning, that pair of strikeouts doubled his season total.
Kelly has racked up a mere four strikeouts over 12 innings of relief, giving him a 3.00 K/9 that ranks dead last in the American League among pitchers who have logged at least 10 innings.