SAN FRANCISCO — Casey Kelly’s father, Pat, is the interim bench coach for the Cincinnati Reds. When he was called up by the Giants on Friday, Casey didn’t want to think much about the possibility of being reunited next week. He didn’t want to get too far ahead of himself, but it now seems likely that Kelly will be in Cincinnati next weekend. He actually might start a game.
On an otherwise lifeless night for the Giants, Kelly pitched five sharp innings out of the bullpen. He allowed just two singles, but it was too little, too late in a 4-0 loss to the Pirates. Manager Bruce Bochy said the staff would discuss what to do with the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
“What a great job he did,” Bochy said of Kelly. “He really pitched well and he’s been throwing the ball well, and that’s why he’s here. He’s a strike-thrower with all his pitches. He’s a four-pitch guy that pounds the strike zone with quality strikes, too. He had a good tempo out there. He got the ball and went.”
The Giants don’t technically need a fifth starter right away. They are off Thursday after playing three with the Dodgers, but Bochy always prefers to use those built-in days to give his regular starters a break. That seems more important than usual with two rookies — Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez — in the rotation. You would think they know all they need to know about Ty Blach at this point. Chris Stratton might be in the same boat, although when he was optioned back to Triple-A, there was hope that he could make some mechanical adjustments.
Kelly, 28, took over for Blach in the fifth and showed a lot of the traits you would expect from a veteran who has lost a touch of his best stuff. He worked quickly and pounded the bottom of the strike zone, getting eight outs on the ground and striking out three more. Kelly threw just 58 pitches in his five innings, 42 of which were strikes.
“He was really good,” catcher Buster Posey said. “He mixed four pitches well. It was impressive.”
Kelly had a 4.78 ERA in 23 starts for Triple-A Sacramento, but showed a tendency to mix in plenty of gems. He had six starts of seven innings or more, and all six times he gave up fewer than two runs. The ERA was wrecked by a few rough starts in a league full of unforgiving ballparks.
Perhaps the Giants can catch lightning in a bottle for a few starts.