No matter what the results were, the Red Sox had already decided Kelly wouldn't pitch again in 2015. He logged a career-high 134 1/3 innings this season, and also threw 19 at Triple-A Pawtucket.
"We felt like he had exceeded the amount of innings that we wanted. He was right at that area," said Lovullo. "The right thing to do was to shut him down. The news was very, very encouraging. There were no issues whatsoever."
For Kelly, it was essentially two seasons in one. From April 11-Aug. 1, he was 3-6 with a 6.11 ERA in 17 starts. In an eight-start span from Aug. 7-Sept. 15, the right-hander was 7-0 with a 2.35 ERA.
"It was pretty fun," Kelly said of his late-season surge. "It was tough for that first half of the season -- which was three months of being inconsistent and not feeling good out there with the stuff I was throwing. To come back strong -- that's something I'll be definitely looking back at to keep that good feeling and same mechanics and the idea I used of attacking hitters and just building on that."
• Dustin Pedroia clubbed two homers for the Red Sox on Wednesday, and was able to rest on Thursday's off-day. But much to his chagrin, he was not in the lineup on Friday night against the Blue Jays. Instead, Lovullo continues to go by a "soft template" the team put into place for Pedroia since he returned from a right hamstring injury on Sept. 8.
"He was fighting me during yesterday's plane trip," said Lovullo. "He woke up fighting me again today. But we have to stay strong in these situations. It's about Dustin's health. We know what he means to this team. We know what it means to have him in this lineup. We want to win today's game. We want to do the best that we can to win today's game. A lot of times, he's right in the middle of that equation, but we're not going to put him in any situation where he's going to take steps backward right now."
• Lefty Rich Hill will start Sunday's finale. The Red Sox haven't announced their rotation beyond that as they juggle several factors -- including the loss of Kelly and trying to keep an innings limit on young lefties Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens. Hill will take the ball on the one-week anniversary of his first Major League start in six years, when he fired seven shutout innings and notched 10 strikeouts against the Rays.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.