Joba Chamberlain might not be on the disabled list much longer, and Preston Claiborne has pitched pretty well, and Shawn Kelley’s 6.14 ERA makes him pretty easy to dismiss. But don’t count him out just yet.
“I think his arm strength has been more consistent,” Joe Girardi said. “You’re seeing the velocity out of his fastball be more 92-93 where you would see 89-92. It makes his slider better. It just makes all his stuff better. He’s a guy that holds runners, he’s athletic. It just seems like it took his arm a little bit of time to get in better shape.”
Last night, Kelley faced seven hitters and struck out six of them. In his past three outings, he’s allowed one hit, no walks and struck out nine though 4.1 innings.
“I’ve always been a guy that, as the season goes on, as the weather gets warmer, velocity goes up a little bit and slider gets sharper,” Kelley said. “I’m starting to feel a little bit more like myself and get in a groove a little bit. … Fortunately, (last night) I was able to throw strikes and keep my pitch count down and give us a couple of innings. That’s kind of my thing, and if I can do that, I can be helpful to a club.”
Is this recent surge enough to keep Kelley in the mix? Certainly Claiborne has made a strong first impression, and Adam Warren is pitching well in a long relief role. But if the Yankees believe Kelley can give them distance and pitch the way he has lately — since April 20 he’s allowed six hits and one walk while striking out 13 in 7.2 innings — he could still have a role.
“I’ve never been on a team that has the expectations of just winning and thinking World Series as their only goal,” Kelley said. “To have that feeling every night, even if I go in and just get some outs in a win, it feels really good to just help the club win. I’m having a lot of fun on this team. … It’s a fun way to win.”
Associated Press photo