Bounce-Back Seasons Expected from Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly


Their names don’t necessarily evoke images of greatness, but pitchers Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly will figure greatly into the success of the Boston Red Sox this season.

The same was said about them last season, but there is a difference as the Red Sox gear up for the 2016 season. Porcello and Kelly won’t be expected to be front-of-the-rotation pitchers. They have currently been penciled as back-of-the-rotation starting pitchers, where they rightfully belong.

Many fans might remember the first-half of the 2015 season in which Porcello and Kelly had ERAs that needed the aid of rocket scientists to calculate. (Okay, their ERA wasn’t that high, but an ERA that hovers between six and nine is not good.)

After the All-Star break, both pitchers finally started to show why the Red Sox had acquired them the previous spring. They were never expected to be superstars, but from mid-July forward Porcello and Kelly showed better consistency on the mound.

Overall, Porcello led the Red Sox with 149 strikeouts. A 4-6 record after the All-Star break won’t necessarily win hearts, but his ERA was a much better 3.53. He struck out 70 and walked 15 in those starts, looking more like the pitcher that won 15 games in the 2014 season than the pitcher he was in April through June.

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Kelly was even better, winning eight straight after the All-Star break. He was 8-1 with a 3.77 ERA, striking out 50 and walking 18 in those starts before being shut down for the season’s final three weeks with shoulder tendinitis.

His second-half effort was one reason I believe the Red Sox brought Kelly back on a one-year contract.

Both pitchers finished with an ERA just under five. Fifteen years ago, at the tail end of the Steroid ERA, that ERA would have been much more appreciated. These days, ERAs near five from the front of your rotation are not going to cut it.

Porcello and Kelly both had a propensity for giving up the long ball last season. The two combined to give up 40 home runs, 25 of which were allowed by Porcello. These numbers will obviously need to come down for both pitchers for them to get back to the successes they had in previous seasons.

Each man has already made an appearance in a game this spring. Porcello, working on his fastball, gave up three hits and one run in his debut, while Kelly logged two scoreless innings.

Bounce back seasons from both men are expected this season. There should be less pressure to perform and, if the second-half of last season is indication, both appear ready for the challenge.

Next: What will the Red Sox get from Travis Shaw this season?

If not? Rest assured, as there are at least three other candidates with Major League experience in Henry Owens, Steven Wright, and Brian Johnson waiting for a chance to get the ball. Barring injuries, this could be one of the deepest rotations the Red Sox have had in years. And for Boston, behind David Price and Clay Buchholz, they’ll need all the starting pitching depth they can muster.