With off-days coming up, the Red Sox have decided to option struggling starter Joe Kelly and go with a four man rotation for the time being.
After being blown-up in a back and forth slugfest in Baltimore on Wednesday night, Boston Red Sox’ starter Joe Kelly has been optioned to AAA Pawtucket in an attempt to get him back on track. The 27-year old allowed seven runs in just 2.1 innings against the Orioles, allowing seven hits and three walks while striking out just one batter. He threw just 32 of his 59 pitches for strikes, and continued what has been a poor season for the right-hander.
Kelly came into the game with a 6.30 ERA and would see it balloon to a comical 8.46, forcing the first place Red Sox to make a change. His stuff is that of an ace, touching 100 mph at times in his career; it’s the command that has just disappeared completely for Kelly, who now has a 7.66 BB/9 rate on the year, ranking him dead last in the MLB among starters with more than 20 IP.
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According to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, the Red Sox will go without a fifth starter for the time being, as off-days next Monday and Thursday will allow them to get normal rest. Noe Ramirez has been called up to take Kelly’s roster spot, giving manager John Farrell another arm to use after needing more than six innings on Wednesday.
Ramirez has already been optioned four times this season, bouncing back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket frequently. While he’s had struggles at the major league level with a 5.79 ERA through 9 appearances, he’s had generally good results in AAA carrying a 2.77 mark across 13 innings.
For the Red Sox, they can’t afford to keep giving away starts to struggling players and assume their offense will continue its fast pace. Recently they demoted Clay Buchholz to the bullpen, and though this would seem to open the door for his return, he also struggled on Wednesday night, allowing four runs (three earned) while walking four batters in relief of Kelly. Buchholz now has a 6.34 ERA on the year and continues his recent trend of alternating strong seasons with weak ones.
When asked about whether he thought it would lead to a return to the rotation Buchholz said “I’ll go to work either way” and Farrell would not tip his hand on whether there was a return in the plans.
After the recent return of Eduardo Rodriguez to the Red Sox’ rotation, they seem to have four reliable spots in Rodriguez, David Price, Steven Wright and Rick Porcello (who is having quite the bounce-back campaign). Whether they go back to Buchholz, give young southpaw Henry Owens another shot, or look outside the organization remains to be seen, but it’s clear they won’t tolerate poor results for very long.
For now, Boston has some time to make up their mind:
While they make it, the offense is more than carrying the load. Young phenom Mookie Betts had another two home runs on Wednesday night, becoming the first leadoff hitter in MLB history to hit five in the span of two games.
With David Ortiz putting up a career season at age 40, and youngsters Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. continuing their hot hitting ways this team is primed to go on a long run this summer and take a crack at the American League East crown again. If they can find some stability in that fifth starter role, watch out.