Joe Kelly was two completely different pitchers last year. His stuff was electric both times, but his success varied greatly.
From August onward, he went 8-0 with a 3.00 ERA in his final ten starts. Had he not been shut down due to injury on September 15, he could have been even better.
In August, Kelly became the first Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez to win six games in a month. Of course, Martinez was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame the month before.
The offseason before though, Kelly boldly predicted on WEEI that he would win the American League Cy Young. Even as his fastball touched and sometimes even succeeded triple digits, he struggled and ended up making two stints in AAA Pawtucket in July — just before his resurgence.
This offseason, the Red Sox did not do anything with Kelly, other than sign him to a one-year deal worth $2.6 million, avoiding arbitration. As MassLive points out, the Red Sox had an excess of starting pitching (they still do), but they did not trade him.
Kelly went 10-6 with a 4.82 ERA in 25 big league starts. Majors and minors combined, it was the second most innings Kelly had thrown in a season (153.1) — second only to 2012 when he threw 179.1 innings.
Since the Red Sox traded Wade Miley, the lone pitcher on their staff to eat at least 200 innings in 2015, the Red Sox might need to stretch out some of their starting pitchers — Kelly included.
Recently, Kelly was spotted at the UC Riverside baseball alumni game. In that game, he saved his arm — playing first base and left field. Odds are, he was probably better than Hanley Ramirez at both.
Yeah, that’s the future DH right there.
OK, back to Kelly.
Kelly has a handful of experience in the bullpen — specifically with the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals. But SoxProspects projects that he will crack the Red Sox starting rotation — as their No. 5 starter.
The Red Sox have plenty of starting pitching depth so if all else fails, his stuff could translate will in the bullpen.