The Boston Red Sox are heading into the 2015 season with a young starting rotation featuring five pitchers with plenty of big-league experience.

What they don’t have, according to most critics, is a true “ace” who can put a team on his back and deliver every fifth day.

Last weekend, at the team’s “Winter Weekend” event at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, pitcher Joe Kelly said he disagrees with that criticism. He thinks one of these young hurlers could be that ace.

In fact, he thinks he is going to be that guy.

“I’m going to win (the Cy Young Award) this year,” Kelly told reporters, repeating a vow he made earlier in the day on the radio.

That’s a bold call. Kelly is 26 years old and has made just 48 starts in the big leagues. He’s never won more than 10 games or thrown more than 124 innings in a season.

Yet he does fit the profile General Manager Ben Cherington was looking for when rebuilding the team’s rotation. Acquired at the trade deadline last year in a deal that sent John Lackey to St. Louis, Kelly should be entering his prime baseball years. He is under Boston’s control for the next four seasons.

A hamstring injury limited Kelly’s performance last year. It was the first significant injury of his career. He went 4-2 with a 4.11 ERA in Boston after the trade. The numbers might not jump out, but his easy delivery and high velocity do.

“Last year, getting hurt was horrible for me,” said Kelly. “I was gone for three months and then traded. I felt like I didn’t even have a season last year. It’s something that I’m looking forward to this year. Knock on wood, I’ll pitch the whole year healthy and get through it and be pitching in October and not having any arm problems or any leg problems. Just go out there and kick some butt.”

Most Sox fans got their first look at Kelly in Game 3 of the 2013 World Series. He retired the first nine Red Sox batters, and left in the fifth having allowed just one run (a second run charged to him scored after he left). He took a no-decision as the Cardinals won 5-4 on an interference call against Will Middlebrooks.

The Sox went on to win the Series in six games. Kelly later swapped sides and was pitching in Boston. Now he wants to show us how good he can be.

“I just feel like I’m getting better every year,” said Kelly. “I’m learning new stuff. I feel comfortable where I am right now. Ask any pitcher, that’s going to be their goal (winning the Cy Young Award). But my real goal is to be focused on every single pitch, 100 percent.”

It doesn’t look like the Red Sox will be adding a top-of-the-rotation pitcher to the mix anytime soon. They will look to Kelly or one of the other young pitchers (Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson or Wade Miley) to become that guy in the months ahead. It’s a risky proposition, and a major change from recent years when Lackey and Jon Lester gave the Sox a proven commodity at the top.

The weekend fan-fest was a warm and fuzzy event where players chatted with fans and reporters and talked about the promise of the season ahead. It was only fitting that the event was held at a casino.

Cherington is betting on his pitching staff to come up big this season. We’ll see if there’s an ace in hand, or if he’ll have to draw one from someone else’s deck in midseason.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.