Right-hander Casey Kelly, whom the Padres acquired in the controversial 2010 trade that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox, won his major league debut Monday night at Petco Park in San Diego, blanking the Atlanta Braves on three hits over six innings.
Kelly, 22, also got his first major league hit and made a strong play on a topper in front of the plate to start a double play as the Padres blanked the Braves 3-0 for their eighth straight win.
Kelly’s victory came on the 57th birthday of his father, Pat, a former Triple-A manager in the Braves system and currently a minor league coach in the Reds’ system. Pat Kelly was on hand for his son’s debut.
Kelly gave up a hit in each of the first three innings but finished strong by retiring the last 11 Braves he faced, starting with the double play the former shortstop initiated.
He issued two walks and struck out four Braves. He threw 87 pitches, 53 for strikes. Kelly never threw more than 18 pitches in an inning although his velocity dropped in his fifth and sixth innings from a high of 94 on his fastball to 89-91.
“He’s come a long ways since I first caught him in Tucson last April,” said catcher Yasmani Grandal, who hit a two-run homer and a run-scoring single to account for all of the Padres’ runs. “He pitched better today. He threw his curve for strikes whenever he wanted to. That’s a great weapon. That was a real mature performance.”
Given the injury epidemic to Padres starting pitchers, Kelly would have been in the major leagues much earlier this season if he hadn’t missed 3 1/2 months because of an elbow strain and a nerve irritation in his elbow.
“He pitched with the fastball the whole game, spotting it in and out,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “He showed me three pitches (fastball, curve, change). What I liked is he pitched with the fastball. The majority of his pitches were fastballs, in and out, in good spots.”
Fantasy Analysis: Pick up Kelly immediately. He should be able to help your staff down the stretch if you’re in need of pitching.