Joe Kelly

Deciphering why Joe Kelly has turned things around

Rob Bradford
August 24, 2015 - 8:46 pm

So, Joe Kelly, what would you have changed about how you approached life with the Red Sox prior to this run you'€™ve found yourself on? "I would have pitched better," said the Red Sox starter after leading his team to a 5-4 win over the White Sox Monday night by allowing two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings. There is obviously more to the equation, and it doesn'€™t include simply patterning his grooming habits after 1950'€™s actor Errol Flynn. Prior to his current five-game winning streak, Kelly'€™s big league totals for the season was a 5.94 ERA over 12 starts. Since then he has managed a 5-0 mark and 3.03 ERA. So, what'€™s the deal? "I would have done what we'€™re doing now, mix pitches no matter who the hitter is, not just keep serving up heaters. I get a little heater happy," Kelly explained. "If you'€™re not throwing off-speed for strikes it doesn'€™t matter. But I'€™ve been able to get it over for strikes." The win against the White Sox offered a perfect example of how Kelly has evolved. The righty threw more offspeed pitches (slider, changeup, curveball) then fastballs, going to the hard stuff on just 47 of his 103 pitches. And when it came to setting up hitters, he followed the trend, throwing first-pitch fastballs to just 10 of the 27 batters he faced. But perhaps the biggest piece of the equation that has benefited Kelly has been the consistency offered by catcher Ryan Hanigan. Kelly has routinely admitted he doesn'€™t like calling his own pitches, instead preferring to throw whatever pitch the catcher asks for. (When asked how many times he shook off Hanigan Monday night, he said, "One time tonight. I didn't shake. I just looked in there until he called a different sign. Just once." Before, he relied on Yadier Molina to guide him. Now, with Hanigan back from his midseason injury, this has become the starter'€™s pitch-calling Sherpa. "I like throwing what the catcher throws down and not really thinking too much out there," said Kelly, who was throwing to the veteran backstop for the 10th time this season, now totaling a 4.29 ERA when teaming up. "I'm not trying to read too many swings or anything. Getting on the same page as Hanigan, him making me throw those offspeed pitches -- otherwise, I wouldn't be shaking to them. It's a good mix. We have a good thing going right now. We're on the same page. It's fun to see him think back there. I'm throwing whatever he calls."