Joe Kelly

Wednesday's Red Sox-Indians matchups: Joe Kelly vs. Corey Kluber

August 19, 2015 - 4:18 am

In the rubber match of two last-place AL teams, the Red Sox will send Joe Kelly to the mound against 2014 Cy Young Award recipient Corey Kluber. Surprisingly enough for Red Sox fans, Joe Kelly has proven quite capable of late. The oft-bemoaned right-hander has won his last three starts, posting a 4.41 ERA primarily because of a five-run outing vs. the Rays on Aug. 1. In his two latest outings combined, he has allowed just three earned runs. Facing the Tigers on Aug. 7, Kelly was absolutely dominant, recording his first six outs via the punchout. He finished the game with a line of: 5 1/3 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 7 K. Most encouragingly, perhaps, were Kelly's 17 swinging strikes generated, five more than his previous season high. After the game, Kelly was pleased with his offspeed stuff. "I had a good mix of pitches going on early," Kelly said. "The changeup's always felt good, but the slider definitely felt better today. Curveball, when I threw it, it felt pretty good." Kelly shone last Friday against the Mariners, going six innings while giving up just four hits and a run and striking out six. He lasted 106 pitches and generated 13 fly balls. Though he was outpaced by his offense, which put up 15 runs, Kelly is starting to display some of the improvements he made in Triple-A throughout the month of July. For the season, Kelly is 5-6 and still owns a 5.69 ERA. But his FIP sits at 4.29, better than the marks of teammates Eduardo Rodriguez (4.30) and Steven Wright (4.98), indicating he's due for some luck on batted balls. Kelly and the Red Sox draw the unfortunate task of matching up with Kluber, one of the most underrated pitchers in the game this season. Kluber's standard stats are adequately impressive: 8-12 record, 3.34 ERA, 1.04 WHIP. However, his FIP (2.58) and WAR (5.3) rank fourth and second, respectively, in the MLB. He hasn't been quite as dominant as he was last season, but he's close enough. To make matters worse for Sox offense, Kluber has been improving with each start. Three out of his last four outings have resulted in a complete game and he's won his last two starts, an accomplishment for someone who began the year 3-9. Most of his problems can be traced back to the 3.6 runs per game the Tribe offense has supplied him with, the third-worst mark in the AL. Kluber nearly made history in his most recent outing against the Twins last Friday. The former Padre hurled a one-hit beauty, the only blow being a solo home run off the bat of Joe Mauer in the fourth inning. Kluber recovered to retire the last 16 batters he faced, whiffing seven for the game. Indians manager Terry Francona had nothing but praise for his ace after the 6-1 win. "He was so good," Francona said. "You're facing a team that you faced five days ago, which is never easy. He was just in command the whole time and I think he kind of showed you, when we score some runs, he kind of puts it in overdrive." Kluber has pitched at Fenway Park just twice in his five-year career, but he's certainly made it just like home. He's gone 12 innings, racking up 14 strikeouts and logging a 2.25 ERA on Yawkey Way. Indians vs. Kelly (RHP) Chris Johnson (6 plate appearances): .400 AVG/.500 OBP/.400 SLG Michael Brantley (3): .333/.333/.333 Carlos Santana (3): .000/.000/.000 No other Indians have faced Kelly. Red Sox vs. Kluber (RHP) Alejandro De Aza (24): .150/.261/.150, 8 strikeouts David Ortiz (9): .250/.333/.625, 1 HR, 3 RBIs Brock Holt (7): .429/.429/.429, 2 RBIs Ryan Hanigan (6): .167/.167/.167, 4 strikeouts Jackie Bradley Jr. (5): .000/.250/.000 Xander Bogaerts (3): .000/.333/.000 Hanley Ramirez has a walk in one plate appearance vs. Kluber. No other Red Sox have faced Kluber.