When the Red Sox decided to shut Joe Kelly down for the remainder of 2015, it ended a roller coaster year for the hard-throwing right-hander. This season has included a lot of failure, and a decent amount of success for Kelly, especially recently. Kelly’s past eight starts have been encouraging, and provide some hope for success going into 2016. Whether or not Kelly will still have a shot at a rotation spot is debatable, but there is success to build off of. The most important factor of Kelly’s recent stretch of success is consistency, which he has generally lacked for most of his Red Sox career. Since Kelly will not be taking the mound again in 2015, we can take a look at his season as a whole, and the results might be somewhat surprising. I like to hear bad news first so I’m going to start there.
Basically the first four months of the 2015 season. Kelly’s first 17 starts left him with a 6.11 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, and .284 Average Against. It essentially seemed like every time Kelly pitched, he ended up with as many earned runs allowed as innings pitched, almost always leaving his team trailing. While Kelly maintained decent strikeout (7.54 K/9) and walk (3.36 BB/9) rates, his run prevention was awful at best. Part of that problem was a near-complete lack of command from Kelly. That issue does not really show up in the walk rate, but it was apparent in watching Kelly pitch; he would miss with the first few pitches to fall behind in the count, then leave a pitch over the middle of the plate to get crushed. This kind of performance leads to a high pitch count, exits in the early innings, and a huge burden on the bullpen to finish the game. Kelly would probably like to forget the first two-thirds of the season as much as the Red Sox as a whole.