Joe Kelly tips unhittable pitch

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly throws
against the Cleveland Indians in the seventh
inning during Game 1 of ALDS, Oct. 6, 2016.
(AP Photo/David Dermer)
Eric D. Schabell
Contributing Writer

Who can't remember Joe Kelly in the 2016?

The season where he was unable to hold on to his spot in the starting rotation.

Kelly was sent to Pawtucket and came back as a power reliever in September and October, unlike few we have seen.

You might not remember that part though, with the Red Sox getting bumped out of the American League Devision Series by the Indians.

Kelly faced 53 batters over 10 appearances, posting a 0.67 ERA, striking out 20, walking but three and giving up a single run on nine hits. He dominated hitters with fastball control topping out at and over 100 MPH.

Then in the final American League Division Series Kelly faced 11 hitters and retired them all.
Where did that come from?

What did he pick up that he was missing as a starter?

Kelly talked with Rob Bradford on his podcast and tipped the world how he was able to dominate some of the best hitters in the league.

"In the playoffs, it was all sliders. I kind of tweaked the sliders with (assistant pitching coach) Brian Bannister I think the first day in Cleveland. We held the same grip, but did something with my wrist, the way I cocked it a little bit different and I played catch with them warming up before batting practice for about 10 minutes. I liked how it spun, and he liked how it spun and how it went straight down and disappeared, kind of like a Chris Archer-type slider. I got into the game and I shocked to it because I wanted to test it out and got a good swing and miss on it. So I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to keep throwing it.’ There was one point probably in my third appearance in the playoffs where 10 of my 13 pitches I threw were all sliders. I didn’t want to throw it that much but I kind of fell in love with it because it was generating so many swings and misses and so many foul balls and weak contact. It was something I learned probably 10 minutes before Game 1. I was like, ‘You know what, why not?’"

This would be fine except that it might be nice to keep that information in your pocket and let the scouts try to figure out how to decipher your new pitch. It must be really hard to identify if a 100 MPH fastball is coming, or a curve or that new nasty swing-and-miss slider based on the same arm slot and just a slight change to the wrist?

Kelly followed up with, “It’s something where I know they were scouting me. The hitters were saying, ‘OK, high velocity fastball thrown in the top of the zone, and he’s bouncing curveballs. If I break out a third pitch they hadn’t seen, obviously on the video, it was something I thought I had the advantage on their hitters because I didn’t throw it prior to the playoffs. It ended up working and I saw some really bad swings and some really bad timing. Guys were baffled because they didn’t know I had that pitch. I kept throwing that pitch just because it probably wasn’t in the scouting report and it got more swings and misses than I thought it would.”

I for one would have liked to see him keep dominating in 2017 right out of the starting blocks from the Red Sox bullpen, but now you can be sure that there are plenty of scouts updating their pitching reports on Kelly.

Listen close... you can you hear the keyboards clicking and the databases being updated across MLB.

Post a comment or via twitter @erics_redsox with your thoughts.

More by Eric D. Schabell