Joe Kelly

Sunday's Red Sox-Rangers matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Wandy Rodriguez

May 31, 2015 - 4:40 am

Though much has been made recently about Joe Kelly's place in the Red Sox rotation, he will get the start Sunday afternoon for the Red Sox against the Rangers and Wandy Rodriguez in last of a four-game set. Kelly enters Sunday's contest looking to bounce back from one of the worst outings of major league career. Pitching against the Twins last Monday, Kelly lasted just 1 2/3 innings, as he allowed eight hits and seven earned runs. After the game, much of the discussion centered around his viability as a starter going forward. "There'۪۪s no denying the stuff," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It'۪۪s a matter of consistent location with his fastball. When he'۪۪s in those games where the runs have come about, it'۪۪s typically been mislocated fastballs that found their way to the plate." Against the Rangers on May 20, Kelly pitched one of the best games of his 2015 season, throwing seven innings with seven punchouts and just two runs in an unlucky 2-1 defeat. The 26-year-old was on his game, notching 26 strikes looking in a pitch location clinic, just five days before his implosion in Minnesota. Kelly will carry the weight of a 1-4 record and a 6.24 ERA to the mound with him Sunday. In nine starts this season, the right-hander has allowed seven home runs and 20 free passes. His strikeout rate is up 1.9 K/9 from last season, but his hits per nine has also risen from 6.9 to 9.4. Though he sports a 4.50 FIP, indicating he has been prone to poor defense, Kelly's opponents' batting average on balls in play rests at .299, nearly the league average. This shows that in spite of defense, opponents are getting on base at a normal rate and still tacking on runs. With his future in the balance, Kelly will look to turn his recent misfortune around against 11-year veteran Wandy Rodriguez. Rodriguez has witnessed a career rejuvenation of sorts with the Rangers this season, posting a 2-2 record and a 3.60 ERA through seven starts after logging a bloated 6.75 ERA in six outings last season with the Pirates. Rodriguez, who signed with the Braves in the offseason but was released on April 3 and then signed with Texas, has hung tough throughout the month of May, earning both of his victories this month. Over this stretch of five starts, the southpaw leads the Rangers pitching staff with a 3.23 ERA and a miniscule 1.01 WHIP. In his most recent outing against the Indians last Tuesday, Rodriguez went 5 1/3 innings, striking out six in a no-decision. He did not show his best stuff, however, as he walked five and gave up three runs on two long balls. Rodriguez did, however, hurl his best stuff at the Red Sox on May 21 when he tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball at Fenway Park. After the game, Rangers manager Jeff Banister lauded his pitch mixing. "Really nice pitching by Wandy tonight," Banister said. "Back to what we've seen except for the last outing -- ability to move the fastball in and out. The breaking ball -- the hard and soft breaking ball to keep the hitters off balance." Red Sox vs. Rodriguez (LHP) Hanley Ramirez (31 plate appearances): .370 AVG/.452 OBP/.704 SLG, 1 HR, 2 doubles, 2 triples Pablo Sandoval (10): .222/.300/.222 Mike Napoli (9): .125/.222/.125, 4 strikeouts Mookie Betts (3): .333/.333/.333 Brock Holt (3): .000/.333/.000, 1 strikeout David Ortiz (3): .000/.000/.000, 1 RBI Dustin Pedroia (3): .333/.333/.667, 1 double Xander Bogaerts is 1-for-1 with a walk vs. Rodriguez. Sandy Leon is 0-for-2 with a strikeout vs. Rodriguez. Rusney Castillo, Carlos Peguero and Blake Swihart have not faced Rodriguez. Rangers vs. Kelly (RHP) Shin-Soo Choo (9): .333/.333/.778, 1 HR, 1 double Adrian Beltre (6): .500/.500/.500 Elvis Andrus (5): .250/.200/.250 Leonys Martin (5): .400/.400/.600, 1 double Mitch Moreland (5): .200/.200/.200, 2 strikeouts Robinson Chirinos (3): .333/.333/1.333, 1 HR, 2 strikeouts Carlos Corporan (3): .500/.667/.500 Delino DeShields (3): .000/.333/.000 Thomas Field (3): .000/.000/.000, 2 strikeouts Prince Fielder (3): .333/.333/.333 Josh Hamilton and Adam Rosales have not faced Kelly.