How About Joe Kelly?

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pokey_reese

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We have threads for Cespedes, and Craig, who isn't even playing, and Ranaudo who made one start.  Then poor Kelly goes out, and gives up one run against his former team and no one wants to talk about this shiny new toy who might be in the rotation for years?  No sir.
 
Looking at the pitchF/X data for the game: http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?month=8&day=6&year=2014&game=gid_2014_08_06_bosmlb_slnmlb_1%2F&pitchSel=523260&prevGame=gid_2014_08_06_bosmlb_slnmlb_1%2F&prevDate=86&league=mlb
 
He seems to have good stuff, even if the K numbers (and the swinging strike numbers) aren't there.  94 mph average on the fastball and the sinker (he very rarely throws the straight fastball, apparently), 84 on the change (which had almost the same differential and movement as RDLR's the night before), and a curve that he throws a lot.  He also has a slider that he only threw 6 times, but it generated 2 of his 6 whiffs.
 
The thing that stood out was the fact that he wasn't fooling guys much.  They just didn't swing a lot at his pitches, and if they did they tended to make contact.  He stayed mostly at the bottom of the zone when he threw strikes, which is good, but only threw 54.6% strikes. 
 
This jibes with his season and career numbers of having a 52% GB rate, but low K numbers (5.97/9) and about a 2-1 K/BB ratio, giving him consistent peripherals suggesting a 4.00 ERA to be expected.
 
His stuff seems better than that, but considering that he was playing mainly with Molina, I don't think we can blame sequencing or framing for numbers not matching the stuff.  The slider doesn't lack for movement, nor does the change, but he is basically a two-pitch guy (78 of 97 pitches were sinker/curve).  Can he throw a few more strikes, especially up high?  It seemed like when he got ahead of hitters CV would want him to throw some gas up, but he was always too far out of the zone to get many people to chase the FB.
 
What are your thoughts?
 

foulkehampshire

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Screams future high-leverage reliever, but if he can improve the change-up he certainly has the stuff to stick around the back of the rotation. He hasn't really failed as a starter so far, besides his lack of K's - and if he keeps up the high GB% he'll probably continue outperform his peripherals as long as he keeps the walks down.
 
Liked his poise and tempo.
 
Chien Ming Wang redux? Edit: Henderson Alvarez may be a better comp. 
 

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foulkehampshire said:
Screams future high-leverage reliever, but if he can improve the change-up he certainly has the stuff to stick around the back of the rotation. He hasn't really failed as a starter so far, besides his lack of K's - and if he keeps up the high GB% he'll probably continue outperform his peripherals as long as he keeps the walks down.
 
Liked his poise and tempo.
 
Chien Ming Wang redux? 
 
Not at the current K:BB ratio.  You need to be able to miss bats to be a reliable high leverage reliever.  Nothing about Kelly aside from throwing hard makes me think he would be successful in that role.
 
I would continue his role as is for now, you can do worse for a #4/5 starter than Kelly.  
 

foulkehampshire

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j44thor said:
 
Not at the current K:BB ratio.  You need to be able to miss bats to be a reliable high leverage reliever.  Nothing about Kelly aside from throwing hard makes me think he would be successful in that role.
 
I would continue his role as is for now, you can do worse for a #4/5 starter than Kelly.  
 
His 8.4 K/9 as a reliever says otherwise.  
 
SSS at 52 IP, I realize. 
 

pokey_reese

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foulkehampshire said:
 
His 8.4 K/9 as a reliever says otherwise.  
 
SSS at 52 IP, I realize. 
The question for me there is, do his different results as a reliever come from just dialing up another mph or two on his fastball in short stints, or is he throwing different pitches when he doesn't count on seeing guys more than once?
 

Gash Prex

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I still think this forum underrates Kelly - there is definitely value in a solid 3-4 starter with good stuff that we have under control under 2019.  I continue to believe he was as big a part of that deal as Craig (maybe even more so).  I am not entirely sure why this forum dislikes Kelly so much other than he doesn't project to an ace or #2 based on his peripheral numbers.  Certainly we need some stability in the rotation going forward and I believe he will provide quality starts.  
 

j44thor

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Gash Prex said:
I still think this forum underrates Kelly - there is definitely value in a solid 3-4 starter with good stuff that we have under control under 2019.  I continue to believe he was as big a part of that deal as Craig (maybe even more so).  I am not entirely sure why this forum dislikes Kelly so much other than he doesn't project to an ace or #2 based on his peripheral numbers.  Certainly we need some stability in the rotation going forward and I believe he will provide quality starts.  
 
While he may be a little bit underrated I think it has more to do with the idea that we have 3-4 back of the rotation type arms between RDLR, Webster, Ranaudo, and Clay already.  He does provide some value and may be better than at least a few of those but he isn't "sexy" based on peripherals.
 

MakMan44

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Gash Prex said:
I still think this forum underrates Kelly - there is definitely value in a solid 3-4 starter with good stuff that we have under control under 2019.  I continue to believe he was as big a part of that deal as Craig (maybe even more so).  I am not entirely sure why this forum dislikes Kelly so much other than he doesn't project to an ace or #2 based on his peripheral numbers.  Certainly we need some stability in the rotation going forward and I believe he will provide quality starts.  
For me, at least, it's because I think he walks way too many for a guy who's career K/9 is under 6. 
 
That being said, last night was impressive and if he can keep a GB% above 50, I think he can be a solid back end starter. 
 

riboflav

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Gash Prex said:
I still think this forum underrates Kelly - there is definitely value in a solid 3-4 starter with good stuff that we have under control under 2019.  I continue to believe he was as big a part of that deal as Craig (maybe even more so).  I am not entirely sure why this forum dislikes Kelly so much other than he doesn't project to an ace or #2 based on his peripheral numbers.  Certainly we need some stability in the rotation going forward and I believe he will provide quality starts.  
 
I think it's because the Sox gave up a relatively inexpensive number 2 for a 4/5 starter and a slow-footed injured guy who has not hit well in a year and has a contract that is not an albatross but is certainly daunting.
 

rodderick

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riboflav said:
 
I think it's because the Sox gave up a relatively inexpensive number 2 who would only be here for another season at most and who apparently really wanted out of Boston for a 4/5 starter and a slow-footed injured guy who has not hit well in a year and has a contract that is not an albatross but is certainly daunting.
 

Toe Nash

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Kelly has 220 IP in his career as a starter with 132 K and 80 BB, or a 14.0 K% and 8.5 BB%. Not particularly impressive from that standpoint. But wait, there's more. He's also pitched in the NL and has a 27/2 K/BB ratio against opposing pitchers. I will assume most of those came as a starter so that brings his numbers to around 12% K% and 9% BB% in an era with the highest K% in MLB history (league average for AL starters is 19.1% K% and 7.4% BB%).
 
If he doesn't improve he's basically putting up Scott Feldman-level K and BB rates moving to the DH league. A 51-55% GB% and 2:1 GB:FB would help, but maybe not as much as we hope if Xander is the shortstop of the future. 
 
That said, he can throw faster than Chien-Ming Wang ever could, so maybe there is upside there, even if it comes out of the pen.
 

soxfan121

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pokey_reese said:
The question for me there is, do his different results as a reliever come from just dialing up another mph or two on his fastball in short stints, or is he throwing different pitches when he doesn't count on seeing guys more than once?
 
Source
 
But in Kelly’s defense, there’s this: according to the Baseball Prospectus PITCHf/x leaderboard, this year 80 starting pitchers threw at least 500 sinkers. Kelly was the only one whose sinker didn’t get taken deep. To the eye, the pitch doesn’t dive, but clearly it does something right. Nobody’s sinker allowed a lower isolated slugging.
 
What we’re left with is a guy who isn’t as good as his numbers, and who isn’t as bad as his numbers. Interestingly, we know that strikeout potential is there. As a reliever, Kelly has thrown a little harder, but not much, and he’s more or less preserved his same pitch mix. This year, Kelly struck out 13 fewer batters as a reliever than as a starter, in 50 fewer innings. These pitches can miss bats. Kelly just follows a different course as a starter, and perhaps it’s worth noting that his overall strikeout rate was 13% with the bases empty and 19% with runners in scoring position. 
 
 

MyDaughterLovesTomGordon

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From watching last night, I just kept thinking, "effectively wild." He never seemed to hit the glove, ever.

That can work, as it's tough to settle in against him, but it's only a matter of time till he misses middle-middle and gets rocked or a patient team just waits him out.

He's got good stuff but the command doesn't impress me at all.

But it's just one start, and he was obviously nerved up.
 

Tyrone Biggums

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Gash Prex said:
I still think this forum underrates Kelly - there is definitely value in a solid 3-4 starter with good stuff that we have under control under 2019.  I continue to believe he was as big a part of that deal as Craig (maybe even more so).  I am not entirely sure why this forum dislikes Kelly so much other than he doesn't project to an ace or #2 based on his peripheral numbers.  Certainly we need some stability in the rotation going forward and I believe he will provide quality starts.  
I still would have held out for Shelby Miller. If you're going for it next year might as well take upside in the deal. Kelly is a solid back end guy that will probably end up in the pen.
 

foulkehampshire

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Tyrone Biggums said:
I still would have held out for Shelby Miller. If you're going for it next year might as well take upside in the deal. Kelly is a solid back end guy that will probably end up in the pen.
 
I think there's a 75% chance Shelby Miller flames out within the next couple years. 
 
He's really overrated.
 

mfried

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Tyrone Biggums said:
I still would have held out for Shelby Miller. If you're going for it next year might as well take upside in the deal. Kelly is a solid back end guy that will probably end up in the pen.
Based on Wednesday night and a couple of views last year, Kelly looks like a solid #3 or #4, more useful in the rotation than out of the pen, where his solid but not outstanding stuff could easily lead to losses.  I see him as a considerably better starter than Workman.  I have no problem envisioning a Shields, Buchholz, Kelly, de la Rosa plus x (Owens?) rotation providing a workable team, though not necessarily a playoff-bound one.
 

foulkehampshire

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absintheofmalaise said:
I realize he isn't doing as well this year as last year, but what makes you think he will flame out?
 
He's a fastball-only pitcher who can't command his stuff particularly well anymore from some reason - I suspect injury. He hasn't been the same guy since they shut him down last postseason. 
 

HomeRunBaker

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j44thor said:
 
While he may be a little bit underrated I think it has more to do with the idea that we have 3-4 back of the rotation type arms between RDLR, Webster, Ranaudo, and Clay already.  He does provide some value and may be better than at least a few of those but he isn't "sexy" based on peripherals.
Webster and Clay certainly can't be relied upon moving forward while one of the two young arms can now safely be included in a deal to a southern corner state for an OF whose name comes up frequently with Kelly on hand. There is not only value in a consistent 3-4 guy but also in having depth at that slot to make future trades without the rotation feeling it. Ben is building this depth at multiple positions.....C, SS, CF and now mid-back end of rotation.
 

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mfried said:
Based on Wednesday night and a couple of views last year, Kelly looks like a solid #3 or #4, more useful in the rotation than out of the pen, where his solid but not outstanding stuff could easily lead to losses.  I see him as a considerably better starter than Workman.  I have no problem envisioning a Shields, Buchholz, Kelly, de la Rosa plus x (Owens?) rotation providing a workable team, though not necessarily a playoff-bound one.
 
Remember, though, Kelly only converted/committed to pitching in college ball.  IMO, it's pretty impressive that he gained enough control over his bread-and-butter pitches and developed a repeatable enough delivery to become a MLB starter by age 24.  And of course, there's always the opportunity for him to learn and introduce more pitches into his personal repertoire to generate swings-and-misses.
 
It's notable to me that he's exactly the type of pitcher the Sox targeted in the 2013 draft with Trey Ball: athletic two-way player, not too much abuse of arm, low-effort repeatable delivery (also, rather pedestrian minor-league stats).  I have no doubt it's true, when Cherington said the Sox have been following his career quite closely.  
 
I hope he matures into a #2 innings-eater with the Sox, and expect Fenway's RF will help him more often than not.
 

Sprowl

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Joe Kelly couldn't spot his fastball in the first inning, but he got over it. On the bright side, his slider appears to be deadly to RHB -- check out the cluster at +1-3" horizontal movement and 85-87 mph:
 

 
Velocity 93-96 + wipeout slider = deadly in Fenway. He only throws the slider to righties. Against lefties, he'll have 3 decent pitches (counter-clockwise: fastball, changeup, curve) and a big right field to work with:
 
 

Dick Pole Upside

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And speed on the basepaths! 
 

Pete Abraham @PeteAbe · 12h


It appears the last #RedSox pitcher to steal a base before Joe Kelly just now was Bill Landis in 1969.


Pete Abraham @PeteAbe · 8h


Joe Kelly’s SB was the first for an AL pitcher since Kenny Rogers in 2002.

 
Was impressed at how he stuck it out.  Thought he was channeling Buchholz in the 1st, but he just kept dealing.  Seems to keep a cool head.
 

jasail

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T&R had Nieves on this morning. To paraphrase, he thinks Kelly has the stuff to be a very good innings eater. His major issue, particularly early in games, is that he tries to work the corners and get the strikeouts and he racks up pitches. He likes the movement on Kelly's fastball and wants him to be aggressive in the lower third of the zone early in the count. If he gets ahead, then thrown the breaking ball off the plate or elevate the fastball, but once the count is even go back to pitching to contact.    
 

ivanvamp

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Kelly was driving me crazy in the first inning, but I'm an optimist when it comes to him.  Here's what I see that makes me optimistic.  You have a 26-year old with a very live arm that also possesses some pretty nasty secondary pitches.  And he's already had some success in the major leagues. (career stats:  70 g, 279.0 ip, 3.19 era, 118 era+)  
 
Can he be an ace?  Probably not.  A solid rotation guy?  Yes, I think so.  
 

Sprowl

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Kelly might be trying to work the corners, but evidently he can't. There are pitches on the edge, and then there are meatballs. Kelly's slider was a killer pitch last time around; this time, he threw one and it got hammered. For a pitcher whose scouting report reads "Hammer the Low Fastball", this is an ugly chart:
 

 
The Devil has fertile ground in Joe Kelly and Allen Webster.
 

Sprowl

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CaskNFappin said:
If he was Shelby Miller there'd be a million excuses instead of a million criticisms.....cause prospects.
 
Isn't Kelly 26 almost as much a prospect as Workman 26, DLR 25, Webster 24 or Ranaudo 24 (25 on September 9)?
 
But you can't hold a whole minor league system responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole pitching instructional system? And if the whole pitching system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our baseball development institutions in general? I put it to you, Cask - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?
 

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Sprowl said:
 
Isn't Kelly 26 almost as much a prospect as Workman 26, DLR 25, Webster 24 or Ranaudo 24 (25 on September 9)?
 
But you can't hold a whole minor league system responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole pitching instructional system? And if the whole pitching system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our baseball development institutions in general? I put it to you, Cask - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?
Our?
 

glasspusher

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Sprowl said:
 
Well, our entire North American society, but you get the point.
That's a good point. Mexicans consider themselves Americans, and folks from The USA and Canada as North Americans.
 
Well, you can do whatever you want to us, Sprowl, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America. Gentlemen!
 
[Leaves, humming the Star-Spangled Banner]
 

iayork

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Sprowl said:
Kelly might be trying to work the corners, but evidently he can't. There are pitches on the edge, and then there are meatballs. Kelly's slider was a killer pitch last time around; this time, he threw one and it got hammered. 
Kelly looks to me like a pitcher with high variability game to game.  He's one of several pitchers we now have with a lot of movement on their pitches (Layne seems like another) and he doesn't seem to have a lot of control over how much movement there is.  On days when his pitches are moving predictably, so that he can place them more or less where he wants, he's going to be really hard to hit. On some other days, we'll have yesterday's game.  
 
He's a good candidate for a no-hitter, and he's a good candidate to end up with a middle-of-the-pack ERA at the end of a season, with a bunch of good games and a few disasters. Basically, he's Wakefield with a fastball.  
 

Toe Nash

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CaskNFappin said:
If he was Shelby Miller there'd be a million excuses instead of a million criticisms.....cause prospects.
If he had a K rate that was higher than Scott Feldman there would be fewer criticisms. If you're not striking out players you need to hit your spots (or get good defense behind you).
 

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iayork said:
Kelly looks to me like a pitcher with high variability game to game.  He's one of several pitchers we now have with a lot of movement on their pitches (Layne seems like another) and he doesn't seem to have a lot of control over how much movement there is.  On days when his pitches are moving predictably, so that he can place them more or less where he wants, he's going to be really hard to hit. On some other days, we'll have yesterday's game.  
 
He's a good candidate for a no-hitter, and he's a good candidate to end up with a middle-of-the-pack ERA at the end of a season, with a bunch of good games and a few disasters. Basically, he's Wakefield with a fastball.  
 
You do understand that if Xander Boegarts makes that relatively simple play yesterday, that Kelly ends up giving up only 3 runs instead of 7 and might have ended up staying in there longer, right?  And since there was one out made on the play, there's no error and all the runs are earned.
 

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Sprowl said:
 
Isn't Kelly 26 almost as much a prospect as Workman 26, DLR 25, Webster 24 or Ranaudo 24 (25 on September 9)?
 
But you can't hold a whole minor league system responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn't we blame the whole pitching instructional system? And if the whole pitching system is guilty, then isn't this an indictment of our baseball development institutions in general? I put it to you, Cask - isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?
Point of parliamentary procedure: hopefully yesterday was simply an off day for Kelly and he can soon return to ramming speed
 

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iayork said:
Kelly looks to me like a pitcher with high variability game to game.  He's one of several pitchers we now have with a lot of movement on their pitches (Layne seems like another) and he doesn't seem to have a lot of control over how much movement there is.  On days when his pitches are moving predictably, so that he can place them more or less where he wants, he's going to be really hard to hit. On some other days, we'll have yesterday's game.  
 
He's a good candidate for a no-hitter, and he's a good candidate to end up with a middle-of-the-pack ERA at the end of a season, with a bunch of good games and a few disasters. Basically, he's Wakefield with a fastball.  
 
Yeah, I'm seeing this as well tonight. This is the first time I've watched him pitch. I don't recall any of his starts from St. Louis. He looks like a promising young pitcher.
 
He hits 95 with life. He fooled Robinson Cano on a changeup -- that's a righty fooling a murderous lefty. No easy task. Kelly shows a sinker that works. 
 
Joe Kelly threw 231 innings prior to this season. He has the raw stuff to be a great pitcher.
 
A hopeful comp is Garrett Richards, who threw 230 innings before this season, one less than Kelly. Richards is another guy who throws hard but, until this year, had trouble commanding his heat. Of course, we all know what happened -- he figured it out and was competing for the Cy Young prior to his injury.
 

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Kelly decided to go right to the injury part. Looked like either some sort of back injury or he's sprouting wings like the guy from the X-men. 
 

mfried

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Maybe it's time to realize that the Red Sox may have stumbled on a great deal in Kelly.  He throws a durable 95 with good breaking stuff, shows mental flexibility, and makes it clear that Craig was the throw-in in this trade.  At this point I consider the Red Sox rotation to be Kelly, Buchholz, de la Rosa (in that order - I hope that it turns out to be 3, 4, 5) with two TBD.
 

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Rudy Pemberton said:
It seems like the Sox rotation is now filled with pitchers who walk too many, and strike out too few. So their success will largely be dependent on BABIP and how many HR they give up in a given start. Would expect such pitchers to have more variability from start to start, no? Also, they are all kind of mediocre. If Kelly (or any of the others) were consistent start after start, they'd obviously be better pitchers. If they sucked every time, they wouldn't be in the league.
Sounds like a great staff to best utilize JBJ and Marrero's skillset on paper. We would need Swihart to upgrade our offense behind the plate if that were to happen in 2016.

I'm really encouraged by Kelly.
 

Sprowl

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Catching up with Joe Kelly after another four starts: mediocre peripherals, barely quality starts, but lots of tantalizing stuff. He doesn't strike out that many batters, he still walks too many, but he throws a wicked sinker (96 mph avg, 99 peak) and he can get whiffs on each of his secondary pitches.
 
 
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