Red Sox’s Joe Kelly Finding Success After Making This Pitching Change


May 30, 2018

Just because you’re not a starting pitcher doesn’t mean you can’t pitch like one.

Take Joe Kelly, for example.

The hard-throwing right-hander has been a steady force out of the Boston Red Sox’s bullpen this season. Kelly only has allowed five earned runs over 24 2/3 innings pitched in 2018, four of which he surrendered on Opening Day.

So, what has made Kelly so dominant on the hill this season? Not abiding by the typical logic of a relief pitcher.

?Starter mix,? Red Sox pitching coach Dana LeVangie told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. ?Typically you see that mix in the third or fourth or fifth inning. His stuff is the most impressive that I?ve seen from him. He?s spinning his curveball with velocity, his changeup — when do you look for it and how do you hit it? It?s incredible. … There?s a lot of anxiety in the batter?s box. The progression of learning the relief role last year to where he is now, he?s taken a whole step forward.?

A prime example of Kelly’s “starter mix” is his outing Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays, in which he tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings to help vault Boston to an 8-3 win. As Speier notes, Kelly threw 22 total pitches: seven four-seam fastballs, six curveballs, five sliders and four changeups.

While a blazing fastball always has been Kelly’s bread and butter, reintegrating his changeup, especially, has produced great results on the mound.

?That?s the stigma as a reliever, have an offspeed pitch and a fastball,” Kelly told Speier. “I was tired of hitters hitting both. I didn?t want to eliminate my other breaking ball, and when I was a starter, my best off-speed pitch was a changeup.?

Hey, whatever works.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports
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