Boston Red Sox

Red Sox option Joe Kelly to Pawtucket after rough outing

Red Sox option Joe Kelly to Pawtucket after rough outing

BALTIMORE -- For the second time in less than a week, the Red Sox have removed a pitcher from their underperforming starting rotation.

Five days after demoting Clay Buchholz to the bullpen, the Red Sox optioned Joe Kelly to Pawtucket in the wake of another poor outing.

Kelly was cuffed around for seven hits and seven runs in just 2 1/3 innings in the Red Sox' 13-9 loss to the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night.

That start, coming on the heels of a bad start in Toronto in which he allowed five runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, was enough to earn Kelly a trip back to the minor leagues.

"It came down to the inconsistency with his command overall,'' said John Farrell after the loss, "and particularly fastball command. When he made mistakes up in the strike zone, or fell behind in the count, (the Orioles) squared a number of balls up.''

Kelly's first start following a disabled list stint for a shoulder impingement offered plenty of promise. He limited the Indians to one hit over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts, but as has been a career-long pattern, he couldn't continue that precision for long.

"When he (first) came back,'' said Farrell, ''it didn't look like he was overthrowing. He was staying in his delivery well, that was a consistent energy and effort that allowed him to command the fastball. That hasn't been the case the last two times out.

"That's been the nemesis for Joe - blessed with a golden arm and tremendous stuff, but the execution has not been as consistent.''

Kelly offered no excuses for his erratic command, which saw him issue three walks and consistently pitch from behind.

"I wasn't commanding the baseball at all,'' said Kelly. "It was just a lack of fastball command where I wasn't putting the ball where it needed to be. From there, I was falling behind hitters and trying to get back into counts, it just wasn't happening for me.''

Kelly said he noted "a couple of different things'' mechanically that need to be addressed, including a dropped arm slot in his delivery.

"I've got to stay on top of the ball a little better,'' he said.

Of the demotion to Triple A, Kelly said: "Obviously, I didn't see it coming, but it's the move they decided to make. I'm just going to go down there and continue to try to get better at what I do and commanding the baseball and try to get back as soon as I can.''

The Sox have two off-days next week, which means they don't have a need for a fifth starter until June 11.

Asked if Buchholz might be a candidate to reclaim his spot, Farrell wouldn't commit.

"We have yet to address that,'' said Farrell. "We've got some work to do and we've got to remain consistent with everyone else. We'll (figure) out who that guy in the rotation will be.''

This is the second time in as many seasons that the Red Sox have sent Kelly to Pawtucket. He was optioned back to Triple A last June 25, where he remained for four starts before being recalled.

After his recall, Kelly went on a stretch that saw him win eight straight games before he was shut down in September with shoulder soreness.

 

Drellich: John Farrell fighting himself when it comes to bullpen roles

Drellich: John Farrell fighting himself when it comes to bullpen roles

CLEVELAND — John Farrell is fighting himself. More than he might realize, he’s willing to mix up his bullpen usage in a way that’s smart. But in some of the most crucial innings, Farrell will stubbornly and perhaps reflexively revert to tradition and a false sense of role — one that actually runs counter to the logic the manager employs at other times.

Look at the big cat, Craig Kimbrel, who was again left in the bullpen Monday night as the eighth and ninth innings deteriorated in a 5-4 Red Sox loss to the Indians. 

It’s all about the inning with Kimbrel, you see — or in Monday’s case, it's a matter of when Farrell would have been forced to use him.

“On a night where if I use Kimbrel tonight, he's got the need for one, if not two days off,” Farrell said. “That's why you need the contributions from everyone.”

But the indication was Kimbrel was available for a save, or perhaps the 10th inning when the lineup turned over again. If he needs rest, rest him. Farrell did not say that Kimbrel was down entirely.

But the eighth inning? No, that’d be lunacy.

“I know that there’s this overriding thought that you can just drop Craig Kimbrel in anywhere from the sixth inning to the ninth inning,” Farrell said Friday. “And with all due respect, there’s a lot more that goes into it than just that. We’ve used Craig for four outs or more this year. And there’s a willingness to do that. 

“But when we’re completely rested down there, there are roles that guys have performed very well to. And there’s a reason why our bullpen has excelled to the point they have. There are roles that are established and they pitch to them.”

Seriously, what roles? The roles change as often as Farrell’s logic defending them, aside from Kimbrel’s overwhelming need to be in save situations.

The Sox were not “completely rested” on Monday, for one. Addison Reed was unavailable entirely.

But step back for a moment, and look at the overall usage of the reliever who initially got the Red Sox into trouble Monday in the eighth, Matt Barnes. 

The righty this year has pitched in the sixth inning three times. He’s been used in the seventh inning 18 times and the eighth inning 29 times, including Monday. 

Another nine times, Barnes has pitched in the ninth or later. Fourteen times, he’s made multi-inning appearances.

Does that sound like a rigid role to you?

When Farrell spoke recently of his plan for using Reed and Barnes, it sounded pretty darn progressive.

"Addision, we’ve initially said it’s the eighth inning," Farrell said. "We’ve used him accordingly based on where we are in the lineup and based on the potential of running threats. … As we map out the seventh and eighth inning, it’s going to be Barnes and Addison and we’ll see where the right matchups provide themselves.”

So what matters more, lineup position and running threats, or what inning it is?

Depends which reliever Farrell is talking about on which night, or maybe which way the wind is blowing.

For Monday night, Barnes all of a sudden was a reliever with a role.

“On a night when not everyone's available, [Barnes is] the one that has had the most experience in the eighth inning against both lefties and righties,” Farrell said.

Experience in a particular inning, now that’s the primary factor for Barnes? What about the fact Barnes has been terrible on the road lately?

What about the fact that Brandon Workman has a 1.40 ERA, or that Farrell said before the game Workman is now in the high-leverage mix?

Workman gave up a leadoff double on Monday in the ninth inning. He might have blown the eighth inning anyway. Farrell also prefers a clean inning for Workman, and wanted to avoid using the righty Monday for workload reasons as well.

But Workman was, indeed, available. So why let extra innings or a tie game in the ninth force you to use him, as opposed to pitching him at a time he perhaps could have protected the lead?

Workman in the eighth could have thrown in place of either Barnes or Heath Hembree. The latter’s done worse than anyone on the Sox with inherited runners and came on to try to clean up Barnes’ mess. Workman has six inherited runners this year and none have scored.

But Workman has a role. Except he doesn’t. Or if he does, it’s as loosely defined as everybody else’s, save for the guy who can only get saves.

Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

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Guyer scores winner on Holt's error in 9th, Indians top Red Sox, 5-4

CLEVELAND - Brandon Guyer scored when first baseman Brock Holt threw away Roberto Perez's bunt in the ninth inning, lifting the Cleveland Indians over the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Monday night in a matchup of first-place teams.

After Guyer's leadoff double against Brandon Workman (0-1), Holt fielded the bunted ball and tried to throw out Guyer at third. Guyer slid into the bag as the throw skipped past third baseman Rafael Devers, then got to his feet and raced across home plate. Teammates ran onto the field and doused Perez with water and white powder.

Perez also had a three-run homer in the second inning.

Cody Allen (1-6) allowed Christian Vazquez's leadoff single in the ninth, but retired the next three hitters. The inning ended when shortstop Francisco Lindor ran down Mookie Betts' popup in center field with his back to home plate.

Cleveland relief ace Andrew Miller left in the seventh inning after aggravating the patellar tendinitis in his right knee. Miller recently returned after over two weeks on the disabled list with the knee injury.