Casey Kelly continues his slow advancement towards making it back to the major leagues, throwing 6 strong innings last Sunday in AAA El Paso and striking out 5. He allowed just 2 runs on 5 hits in El Paso’s 4-2 win as reported by Jeff Sanders of the San Diego UT.
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Kelly has had an important 2015 as he eyes a rotation spot for 2016 in the Padres flux rotation. He has made 16 starts this season and 30 overall appearances, the most of both since 2011.
While he has walked quite a bit more this year than ever in his career, the important thing is that he is logging innings and experience to get back to the level of high performance that earned him a call up to the Padres in 2012. This year he has walked 37 batters in just under 93 innings pitched which of course is a cause for concern, but he has also struck out 68 on the season.
It will be interesting to see how 2016 plays out in the Padres rotation. Certainly James Shields, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are penciled in 1-3, but just where Colin Rea fits in or Odrisamer Despaigne remains to be seen. Ian Kennedy is more than likely headed elsewhere in free agency which might just leave open a spot of competition for Kelly, Robbie Erlin, or potentially a rehabbed Brandon Morrow or Josh Johnson.
While Casey Kelly will always be connected with the Adrian Gonzalez trade that brought him here – I think it’s time we look past that and just try and figure out where he stands in the future of the Padres. He will still be just 26 years old next year despite pitching professionally since the age of 19 after being drafted by the Red Sox, which gives him considerable more experience than many other pitchers. His injury history is a detractor but if he has finally paid his injury dues he could be ready to shine in Petco Park.