Red Sox Season Preview: Rotation

#4 Starter: Joe Kelly

Joe  Kelly

2014 Stats (after being traded to Boston): 4 wins, 2 losses, 4.11 ERA, 1.288 WHIP, 61.1 innings, 41 K’s, 4.62 FIP

As I mentioned, Joe Kelly has a bit more potential than Miley thanks to his stuff. Kelly can light up the gun with his fastball, which sits in the mid 90’s and tops out in the upper 90’s. Kelly is a bit of a wild card in this rotation who, like Buchholz, is a talented pitcher whose ability has not consistently translated into performance. In half a season as a starter in 2013 he showed what he was capable of going 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA, a drastically different number than his 2014 output.

Also like Buchholz, Kelly’s success has come when he has induced weak contact but this is interesting given that Kelly is more of a power pitcher than Buchholz is. Despite a blazing fastball, Kelly doesn’t get a lot of strikeouts and in his time with the Red Sox at least command was at the heart of his issues. He issued 4.6 BB/9 in Boston and while this is admittedly a small sample size, the key to Kelly’s success will be to cut down on those walks. Being able to locate his fastball may improve his strikeout numbers, especially given his lack of punch in his secondary pitches.

Kelly is just 26 years-old so there is plenty of time for him to improve and a full season with the Red Sox will give us a better idea of what he is truly capable of. With so many question marks around him it will be important for Kelly to establish that growth in a timely manner.

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