There’s left-handed pitchers in major league baseball who throw 88 miles per hour because they’re deceptive. Joe Kelly is none of those things.
What the right-hander does well, however, is throw hard. In fact, this year, he’s thrown the hardest pitch in the big leagues so far. That’s right: it wasn’t Aroldis Chapman, Trevor Rosenthal or anyone else. It was Kelly on April 28 against the Chicago Cubs while facing Anthony Rizzo.
In case you were wondering too, that was the fastest pitch in Red Sox history. Seriously. Other than Craig Kimbrel, who else on the Red Sox ever even touched 100? Very short list.
Since coming back to relief–regardless of what anyone else says–Joe Kelly has been excellent.
He’s got something like a 1.21 ERA in 37 relief outings dating back to last year. Yeah. That good. Even a low-to-mid 3’s ERA is considered good for a reliever. No. Kelly isn’t just good. He’s been pretty darn great. Honestly, if anyone was going to make an excellent reliever, he seems to be the guy. He’s just got excellent stuff.
At some point too, you have to wonder if he’s going to overtake Matt Barnes as the team’s setup man, although manager John Farrell has gotten a little creative at times and not necessarily used Barnes in every hold situation, which is something he deserves credit for, especially when certain guys are pitching well and others just are not.
A common criticism Kelly gets is that his fastball is “flat”. But he’s getting outs. His numbers look good, whether or not they’re sustainable given the abnormally low strikeout rate for a guy who throws that hard. But yeah, for now, he’s a guy they can really rely upon at the moment. You can’t say the same about all the other guys. Nope.