What Happens in the Boston Red Sox Rotation?

Eduardo Rodriguez landed on the 15-day DL right before the season with subluxation of his patellar tendon in his right knee and has already made two rehab starts. He is due to start one more after throwing 84 pitches in his last outing, which lasted six innings with justRed Sox Rotation three earned runs (all in the first inning) with three strikeouts. The 23-year-old retired 16 of the final 18 batters he faced and will have one last start May 8th before potentially returning to the Boston Red Sox rotation on May 13th.

The all but expected conclusion is that Rodriguez will take the spot of Henry Owens in the rotation due to the fact that Owens has struggled in two of his outing with his pitch count. In his first start, the youngster lasted just 3.1 innings with four walks and four strikeouts in a no-decision. After a five-inning no-decision against the New York Yankees, the 23-year-old went just three innings while walking six and allowing two runs against the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday. Owens has been lackluster since is major league debut in 2015 and the 88 MPH fastball seems to not be cutting it against the tougher lineups of the majors.

With Rodriguez slotted to take the one real question mark of the Boston Red Sox rotation, what will happen when Joe Kelly returns?

Is Joe Kelly Out of the Red Sox Rotation?

Kelly had an encouraging bullpen session on Tuesday and looks to have a rehab outing on Friday, May 6th, at Triple-A Pawtucket. John Farrell expects him to make two rehab starts, but that does not mean he will be ready to go right after those two outings. If he is healthy and his shoulder responds well after both appearances, then Kelly could be back in the thick of things in the Red Sox rotation.

However, the only other spot the Red Sox can even take a look at is the up-and-down veteran Clay Buchholz. Buchholz had pitched poorly up until the seven inning performance with just a two-run homer in the first inning off the bat of Jose Abreu blemishing the outing. The 31-year-old’s ERA dropped from 6.51 to 5.71 with the outing and this start could be the start of one of one of those ones Buchholz gets on before he gets hurt. Last season, he went through a 12-start stretch with a an ERA just above 2.00 before getting hurt.

My suggestion is to keep Buchholz in the rotation to build his value and trade him before that inevitable injury that derails his trade value and his time with the Red Sox. This leaves Kelly the odd man out of the rotation, but the Red Sox could use him as an arm out of the bullpen. The bullpen depth has already increased with the return of Carson Smith and Kelly is another electric arm to use as a middle reliever if the Red Sox starters fail to make it through six innings on any given night.

The Joe Kelly Experiment Has To End

The Joe Kelly Experiment has to end, and it has to end now. In Kelly’s first start of 2016 he went 3.3 innings while giving up 7 hits, 7 runs (all earned), issued 3 walks, struck out 4, and gave up a monster grand slam to the 2015 MVP, Josh Donaldson. Not to mention almost beheading Kevin Pillar with a 97 mph fastball that luckily only hit the brim of his batting helmet, which Pillar was then able to bounce back up after being knocked to the ground.

Control issues have been hampering him since arriving in Boston. For a guy who can hit triple digits with his fastball well, let’s just say it doesn’t end well. Joe Kelly ExperimentSo it begs the question, why is he still in the rotation? Why is Farrell so intrigued to keep working on what I believe is a failed project. After spending some time down in Triple A last year, Kelly came back up to Boston and showed signs of major improvement. 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA. But it took a trip down to the minors for him to “fix” whatever issues he was having and now we’re to believe he’s figured it all out? Nope, not buying that one bit.

The fact of the matter is this, the 2016 Red Sox pitching rotation is already looking like the teams biggest downfall. Had it not been for some timely offense and relatively strong bullpen in the most recent game, who knows what the outcome would’ve been. But I do know this—and I hope Farrell finally grows a pair and see’s—Joe Kelly should not be in this rotation whatsoever.

If you want to throw him in the bullpen, great! I’m all for it. The more power arms there the better. But if you’re going to keep him in the rotation expect similar results that we not only saw in the last game, but that we’ve seen since he’s arrived in Boston.

They say in baseball a change of scenery is sometimes all that is needed for a player. Well, I think it’s finally getting to that point for Joe Kelly and I hope it happens sooner rather than later because the Joe Kelly Experiment has finally run its course.