Remember the 2013 NLCS when the Dodger’s outfielder Scott Van Slyke got into that silly national anthem standoff before game 6 against the Cardinals? The opposing anthem statue was none other than pitcher Joe Kelly. Yeah that guy. According to reports the Dodgers are close to reaching an agreement with the free agent right hander. Everything comes full circle I guess.
The deal is reportedly for three years and 25 million dollars. The Dodgers saw the 30-year old Anaheim native in the World Series where he came in and completely shut the Dodgers down, tossing six shutout frames. Kelly had an incredibly dominant postseason for the eventual World champion Red Sox. In the 2018 postseason Kelly pitched 11.1 innings allowing just one earned run (two total) eight hits and 13 strikeouts without issuing a walk. Kelly whiffed 10 Dodgers over his six innings in the World Series.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 13, 2018
Kelly is well known for his blazing fastball which can reach up to 99 MPH. Kelly has primarily been a reliever, pitching out of the Boston bullpen over the last three plus seasons. In 2018 Kelly appeared in 73 games and posted a 4.39 ERA while striking out 9.3 batters per nine. Over his career Kelly has increased his strikeout total from his early days with the Cardinals while limiting home runs to just 0.8 per nine. Kelly has struck out 7.2 over his seven year MLB career, but has posted K/9 totals of 10.8, 8.1 and 9.3 over the last three seasons respectively.
Kelly tossed 65.2 innings pitched in 2018 and posted a 2.79 ERA in 2017 while appearing in 54 games. Kelly gave up just four home runs in 2018 and struck out 68 against 32 walks while allowing 7.8 hits per nine. You would figure those numbers should improve moving from the smaller hitter’s field of Fenway Park to the spacious pitcher friendly Dodger Stadium.
Honestly, I like this move. Reports are indicating that Kelly will serve primarily as an eighth-inning guy to bridge to closer Kenley Jansen. Of course Kelly can function in a wide variety of roles from setup-man, long relief and even a spot starter. Kelly has a career 2.49 postseason ERA and has pitched in two World Series, earning rings in both trips to the fall classic.