The Yankees were working with a short bullpen last night, as they always seem to be these days when they routinely get 4-6 innings from their starters. Dellin Betances was unavailable after pitching in the last 2 games and Joe had to find a new way to build his bridge to David Robertson. That task was given to Shawn Kelley, who retired the side in order in the 8th, successfully making the handoff to D-Rob in a tight 1-run game.
It may not have seemed like much at the time, but Kelley’s outing last night was the latest in a long line of strong performances. He’s pitched to a 9.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 14 K line over his last 10 appearances, and has allowed only 2 runs with 22 strikeouts over 13.1 IP since the start of July. This comes on the heels of a very rough June that found him more often than not fighting to command his fastball. That’s not all that uncommon when you’ve missed a chunk of time as big as Kelley did earlier in the year, but the recent small sample size results indicates those problems are behind him.
The Yanks have been short on reliable relievers all season. Betances and Warren have shouldered a very heavy load as a result. Kelly returning to his peak 2013 form would go a long way in helping to ease the burden on them and giving Joe another late-game option he can be confident in on days where 1 or more of his big 3 is unavailable.