Joe Kelly could come back to the Red Sox as a reliever at some point. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With Red Sox' recent bullpen issues, Joe Kelly could return as reliever

Ryan Hannable
July 08, 2015 - 1:43 pm

Despite the Red Sox' recent hot streak -- winners of 13 of their last 20 -- there has been some areas of concern, particularly in the bullpen. In the month of July, Red Sox relievers have an ERA of 5.56, compared to 4.15 in June and 3.20 in May. Aside from Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara, there aren't many players manager John Farrell can trust out of the bullpen. Craig Breslow has allowed three home runs in his last two outings. Over his last seven outings, Matt Barnes has allowed nine earned runs. Tommy Layne hasn't been as sharp as he was at the beginning of the season, giving up multiple hits in two of his last three outings. Robbie Ross Jr. has allowed runs in three of his last four appearances and Alexi Ogando snapped a season-long scoreless inning streak Sunday when he allowed back-to-back homers. If the Red Sox remain in the hunt in the American League East, they would certainly be in the market for a reliever to help Tazawa bridge the gap to Uehara. But, what if they could get a reliever from within their organization and don't have to make a trade? That remains possible with Joe Kelly who is currently starting with Triple-A Pawtucket. "I think at some point he's an option to come back in that role, but to say that there is a prescribed number of starts that we have to see certain things work out and we make the decision from there," manager John Farrell said. "We haven't said that there's X number of starts before we would alter his path. But, he's got major league experience at the major league level. Yeah, there have been times where the work load has [been monitored] very close with Alexi [Ogando], Junichi [Tazawa] and Koji [Uehara]. Yeah, that conversation -- some of that has been had." Kelly was 2-5 with a 5.67 ERA with the Red Sox before being sent down to Triple-A the last week of June. In two starts with Pawtucket, Kelly is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA. In his last outing he went six innings, allowing three earned runs, but had four walks -- continuing the issues he was having in the big leagues with the inability to put hitters away. "The secondary stuff has been sharp," Farrell said of the reports he's been getting. "I know that last time out it was 112 pitches in six innings of work. Knowing there were a lot of foul balls, there were four walks mixed in there. The velocity has been consistent. He went down with two primary objectives and that was to continue to hone the consistent fastball location. And have the ability to lead a breaking ball and then finish off, not too unlike what was being worked on here. It's been two starts and have been good starts, I wouldn't say dominate." With Kelly not dominating the minor leagues as a starter, combined with the need of another bullpen arm, along with Kelly's bullpen experience in the past, it certainly wouldn't be out of the question to see Kelly in the Red Sox bullpen at some point moving forward.