By Ryan Hannable
BOSTON — If there is any one pitcher in the Red Sox rotation the team can feel good about going into 2015 it’s Joe Kelly.
Acquired from St. Louis along with Allen Craig in exchange for John Lackey, Kelly has got better and better in each of his 10 starts with Boston and adjusting to life in the American League. He finished with a 4.12 ERA as a member of the Red Sox, but allowed more then three earned runs just once in his last seven starts.
His best start may have came Saturday against the Yankees when he went a career-high 7 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits, while walking two and striking out two. Two of the four runs he allowed were inherited as Tommy Layne allowed a double in the eighth — the only batter he faced.
Kelly wasn’t as pleased with the start as one might think.
“Rather average,” he said. “I’m glad we won and it is definitely good to go out with a win. It was an average start … I wanted to throw a complete game really, really bad. I’ve never had one in my career and it’s something that makes me frustrated and I let it get away in the eighth inning.”
Kelly joins Clay Buchholz as the two veterans returning to the rotation — although it’s likely the club adds one of two veteran starters via free agency or trade — and with that it was important Kelly had something to build on during the final month or so of the season. Manager John Farrell liked what he saw.
“I feel very good about Joe’s presence in our rotation,” Farrell said. “It’s premium stuff. I think he’s gained some consistency with the use of his fast ball, particularly to the glove side of the plate. When you single out each of the pitches in his repertoire, it’s premium stuff.”
The right-hander, too, is looking forward to next year, especially being able to get a full season with the Red Sox starting in spring training, rather than at the trade deadline.
“I’m looking forward to having a full year here – seeing all the guys we traded for – and playing for a full year,” Kelly said. “It’s definitely something I am looking forward to and it’s going to be fun.”
What do you think of Joe Kelly going into next season? Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section or on Twitter @RyanHannable.