Joe Kelly

Cardinals believe in former teammate Joe Kelly: 'He'll get it back going'

Ryan Hannable
July 13, 2015 - 4:25 pm

CINCINNATI -- Red Sox starter Joe Kelly did not have the best of first halves. In fact, he didn't even make it through the entire 3 1/2 months, as he was sent down to Triple-A Pawtucket at the end of June. Kelly was 2-5 with a 5.67 ERA over 14 starts. The issue for Kelly was he won just once in his last 13 starts. The right-hander was traded to the Red Sox along with Allen Craig from the Cardinals at the trade deadline last year for John Lackey. His former Cardinals teammates say they still keep tabs on Kelly and believe in him. "He was an awesome pitcher. He had some of the most electric stuff I had ever seen," starter Michael Wacha said. "I hated played catch with him in spring training, during the season and everything. He'll find it and he'll get it back going. He's a great pitcher and has some nasty stuff, for sure." Kelly raved about his former catcher Yadier Molina and how he "didn't have to think" about throwing a pitch last season -- he just threw whatever pitch Molina called for. Molina discussed how important the pitcher-catcher relationship is. "That's the key. Anytime you have pitchers, you have to communicate with them and work with them to find the way they like, find the thing they don't like," Molina said. "Communication is important." The 27-year-old has a 2.81 ERA when throwing to Molina, the best to any catcher in his career besides Christian Vazquez (2.41 in four games). Molina remembers Kelly very well. "I remember a lot about him. He was a great teammate, a great guy," Molina said. "Great pitcher. He has great stuff -- 98 [mph] fastball with a great breaking ball. We really miss him." With the Red Sox struggling to find consistent arms out of the bullpen and Kelly having past experience throwing out of the bullpen early in his career with the Cardinals, it's not out of the realm for him to make the transition to the bullpen during the second half of the season. For his career, Kelly has a 3.25 ERA as a reliever, compared to a 3.92 ERA as a starter. If the move were to happen, his former teammates have no doubt he would succeed. "I think his stuff plays there, I think his stuff plays as a starter," Wacha said. "He keeps his arm strength for the whole game it seems like. He's a heck of an athlete. I feel like he could be in either spot." "I think so. He did a good job in both spots," Molina added.