St. Louis Cardinals: An ode to Joe Kelly from a Cardinals fan
By Matt Graves
Joe Kelly is sadly no longer pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals. Lets check in on him with the Red Sox as he pitches out of the ‘pen for them this World Series.
Man, I miss Joe Kelly. He was spunky, goofy, and witty, and who couldn’t root for a guy who wears prescription sport glasses. Ah 2013. The golden age of the Joe Kelly era with the St. Louis Cardinals.
During the regular season Kelly and his best pal Shelby Miller looked like a future we could all get behind. Who could forget the starting pitcher’s standoff with Scott Van Slyke. This moment in and of itself should make you love the guy, but here is the video for those of you who forgot:
In the 2013 postseason Kelly pitched a total of 21.2 total innings, although he had a 4.15 ERA in four starts, how can you not love the guy. While he and Miller would be long gone a year later, lets catch up with how he’s been doing for the Red Sox after his six inning, six strikeout, two run audition in the 2013 World Series.
Kelly was traded to Boston with Allen Craig for Corey Littrell and John Lackey at the trade deadline in 2014. Looking back this trade ended up working out pretty well for the St. Louis Cardinals but at the time it was a culture shock to the team, and Kelly was an unfortunate scapegoat. While Craig plummeted back to earth, Kelly seemingly was forgotten in the eyes of St. Louis fans since the trade. So lets look at what he’s been up to.
Aging like wine
Kelly’s start with the Sox was a little shaky. He finished the 2014 season by going 4-2 with a 4.62 FIP over 10 starts to end the season. He followed that in 2015 with another shaky season with an ERA of 4.82 over 25 starts. 2016 was more of the same and following another lackluster first half the Red Sox banished him to the bullpen, but does it count as banishing him if it saved his career?
The biggest change that happened when Kelly moved to the pen was he could let his wiry frame loose. As a starter in 2013 for St. Louis, Kelly’s fastball averaged 96.2 MPH. In 2017, his first full year from the bullpen, it jumped up to an average of 99.2 MPH. That is the kind of heat that makes a difference, and the Red Sox saw his ERA drop from 5.18 in 2016 to 2.79 in 2017 to go along with a 3.49 FIP.
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While his best year as a reliever was 2017, his 2018 numbers (3.57 FIP in 73 appearances with a 4.39 ERA) sure could’ve looked nice in a certain other team’s bullpen… But enough with the boring numbers, back to the fun stuff.
Joe Kelly, the cult hit
Just as we saw the quirky personality of Kelly in his years here, it came out in Boston too, it just took him a while to get comfortable. He said so himself, “I wouldn’t say it was difficult (in Boston). I’ll just say it was a new environment, a new team…When I was in St. Louis, it was people I had been with since the minor leagues. So it was guys I was comfortable with from the beginning. So going in and meeting a bunch of new teammates, front office, everything.” (via masslive.com)
When he did finally get comfortable, the fans fell in love. And man do I miss this personality on the Cardinals:
This is not Kelly’s first time in costume either:
While it hurts to know he is with another team, I still love to laugh at the guy and his acting ‘skills.’
The Joe Kelly fight club
Now this, this is my favorite Joe Kelly moment of all time. Let me set the scene. Yankees. Red Sox. At Fenway. Now mind you this game was in April, not a heated playoff race yet, but after a dirty slide by Yankees’ rookie Tyler Austin, Kelly decides to hit him with a nice 98 MPH fastball to the ribs on a cold Boston night, and I will let the video show what happens next: (Joe Kelly winds up at 0:49)
Chills…. that is one of the classic fights in the MLB purely because Kelly urged Austin to come out and get it. He yelled, “let’s go” after Austin slammed his bat and the fight was on. Kelly was suspended six games for the fight and the way he spent them was even more iconic.
Rather than sitting at home, or in the dugout, Kelly sat out in the bleachers with the fans. He also received a standing ovation at the Bruins-Maple Leafs playoff game. They showed the brawl on the Jumbotron then found him in the crowd and everyone went nuts. Love it.
The Fans in Boston love him so much they even made “Joe Kelly Fight Club” shirts that anyone can buy here if interested. What a beautiful thing.
Joe Kelly is in the bullpen this World Series for the Red Sox.
If all that was not enough to make you want to root for Joe Kelly, I don’t know whats wrong. We all miss him, so lets all cheer him on as he pitches coming out of the bullpen this World Series for the Red Sox,