Game 1 of 3
When I heard that Casey Kelly was scheduled to make his long-awaited debut with the Padres tonight, I cancelled the rest of my pressing affairs and stayed up late to watch this event. As San Diego looks to win their 8th straight game, my expectations were high...even though they were facing the Braves and one of my favorite pitchers, Paul Maholm.
I would not be disappointed...Kelly showed up ready to go, and summarily blew me away.
There was little doubt how good Kelly was going to be; as a key part of the trade in late 2010 that sent Padres hero Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox, he spent all of 2011 with the AA San Antonio Missions, compiling an 11-6 record with a 3.98 ERA in 27 games...a nice bounce-back from his 3-5 5.31 ERA season with Boston AA affiliate Portland Sea Dogs in 2010. At 22 years old, he's still got a great deal of development to go; perhaps he's not Major League-ready yet, had battled right elbow inflammation to start the 2012 season in AAA Tucson that saw him miss some service time through most of July. All the same, in 8 games between the rookie league AZL Padres and the AA Missions, he compiled a 0-2 record, 3.35 ERA, and saw his WHIP dip below 1 for the first time since his single A days with the Red Sox organization.
Kelly held it all together and showed anything but a hint of questionable promise as a future starting pitcher, and had some help from Yasmani Grandal along the way. Maholm held the rest of the Padres handcuffed as he couldn't afford anyone other than Grandal to emerge from the gate, but the Padres prevailed, with Kelly and the bullpen keeping the Braves scoreless and earning his first MLB Win.