At the trade deadline, after Boston traded both John Lackey and Jon Lester, it appeared as though they had given up. This was not the case however. In fact, they were preparing for the future. Acquiring three proven Major Leaguers—Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, and Joe Kelly—Boston showed the are still competing, just not this year. The outfield is now loaded with talented and the rotation is filled with younger guys and only one veteran in Clay Buchholz. Of all the men Boston received at the deadline, Joe Kelly flew under the radar the most, but is the most intriguing of them all.
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Red Sox fans remember Joe Kelly for his valiant effort last postseason in the World Series against Boston. He pitched well in 5 2/3 innings of work, allowing two runs on two hits, walking three, punching out six. He earned a no decision despite pitching well as his team came out on top 5-4.
Limited to seven starts so far this year due to a hamstring injury, Kelly is in the middle of a down year, but Boston is not banking on him being the Joe Kelly of 2014; they want the Joe Kelly of 2013. This year, Kelly is pitching effectively, but not great. In 35 innings of work his ERA stands at 4.37 while he has fanned 25 men and walked ten. It is worth noting though, he has given up just three home runs on the year. A year before though, the now 25-year-old served as a swing man for St. Louis, a role in which he thrived. In 37 appearances, including 15 starts totaling 124 innings, Kelly owned a 2.69 ERA despite punching out only 79 hitters. In his MLB career, he owns a 3.25 ERA in 68 games, 38 of which were starts.
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In the Red Sox rotation, it appears as though Kelly will take over as the Red Sox No. 2 starter. Right now, granted they seem to have given up on this season, the order of the rotation is not as important as who is pitching. Kelly will be getting starts for Boston once every five days for the rest of the season. It is uncertain when he makes his first start for the Red Sox although he last pitched on July 30th.
The sinkerballer will fare well at Fenway Park as it is widely considered a hitter’s park. Since Kelly forces more ground outs than fly outs, the odd dimensions of Fenway park will not affect him as much as they do some other pitchers. One in mind who struggled at Fenway a bit is former Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy who is known as a fly ball pitcher.
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Kelly is still very young, and the future is bright for him. It was a smart move by Boston to swap Lackey for a bat and a young pitcher who is a potential ace. Expect a big year out of Kelly in 2015 and for him to finish this one strong. When healthy, Kelly is a great pitcher making him a perfect fit for the future of the Red Sox rotation.