Can we say that Joe Kelly is the next Jake Arrieta?
Jorge Camargo Contributing Writer
Rich Gagnon/Getty Images
We all know that Joe Kelly has been awesome during his last seven starts. His stats since the start of last month are now being compared to Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett's numbers and when you throw those names into a comparison, it means that you've been nothing but stunning. However, when your name is Joe Kelly it may seem that you're in a fluke since your resume shows otherwise. The right-handed began this season on a sour note with a 5.67 ERA, 2 wins, 6 losses and only two outings of at least 7.0 IP over his first 14 games. Some of us even suggested that maybe he would be a better fit for the team if he converted into a relief pitcher. But now things have changed for Kelly and his Cy Young comment back in the offseason wouldn't seem so nonsense if he began this season pitching the same way he's been doing it for the last couple of weeks.
Personally, I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan but I put attention to every single team in baseball. Every once in a while I like to go to a El Paso Chihuahuas game (the San Diego Padres AAA team plays in the same town I'm currently living), travel to Houston or Arlington to see the Astros and Rangers and take a close look to the upcoming underdog stories in MLB; those are my favorite ones. If you've been paying attention to the National League playoff race, things are heating up at the NL Central with the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates. Chicago has been lead by an extremely talented pitcher and his name is not Jon Lester, but Jake Arrieta. Arrieta is a 29-year old right-handed starter that is now being considered as a strong candidate for the NL Cy Young Award. With Max Scherzer not having a winning record, it seems that the Cy Young winner is going to be between Arrieta or Zack Greinke. But the story has not always been the same for Arrieta, actually you might say that this is the first year he can be described as an ace.
Arrieta sitting in the dugout after his
career-worst outing back in '12. He allowed
9 runs in 4 innings. (Karl Ferron, Baltimore Sun)
Long story short, Arrieta was selected by the Orioles in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft and after spending a few years in the Minor Leagues, he made his Major League debut on June, 2010 against the Yankees. He ended his 2010 season with a 6-6 record and a 4.66 ERA. Those numbers are "decent" for a rookie who made his debut on June so everything looked alright, but trouble striked in his 2012 season. Arrieta struggled a lot in that year, beginning the season with a 3-9 record and a 6.17 ERA; he eventually got demoted to AAA. After an acceptable Spring Training, he began 2013 in the Major League roster, but after four starts was sent back again to AAA. By July, he holded a 1–2 with a 7.23 ERA in five starts at the Major League level. The O's eventually got tired waiting for him to bloom, so they traded him to the Chicago Cubs for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger; and the rest is history. Arrieta began to be a reliable pitcher last season and maybe you remember him for taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Red Sox. If two years ago someone approached me and say that the guy from the O's that got traded to the Cubs was going to be a Cy Young candidate and of the reasons why the Cubs are making a playoff push, I would definetely believed that he was out of his freaking mind.
And back to Joe Kelly...He is two years younger than Arrieta and having a similar story to the one the Cubs pitcher had. Kelly didn't have a spectacular debut season at the Major League level and hasn't ever been considered as a reliable pitcher. Injuries were one of the main reasons he got traded to the Red Sox and even though we has sort of "ok" last season, he hasn't perfomed at a dependable level (until now). I know how this things work and whenever we compare someone to a legend or begin to have hope, something goes wrong (Exhibit A, Clay Buchholz this season). Kelly is clearly putting an incredible stretch, but also other Red Sox players have done that in the past. Remember Pedro Ciriaco and Will Middlebrooks? Kelly can be having a fluke stretch, and allow 10 hits without recording an out in his next start. It's also probable that he can take a no-hitter to the 8th inning. But also maybe he's going to boost his ERA to 5.50 in the remaining games. And that's the beauty of the game, baseball will always give the best stories because they can't be scripted. For all we know, Arrieta's Cy Young campaign may also be a fluke.
I don't want to jynx it, so I won't say something as a fact. I'll just ask this question and let you answer to me, without jynxing it too. Is it too soon to say that Joe Kelly is the next Jake Arrieta? If he is, let's hope he accomplish it in sooner than later because he is under contract until 2019. Leave your comments below and don't forget to follow us on Twitter at @RedSoxLife and follow me on @iamjorgecamargo for more Red Sox stuff.