LAS VEGAS — It seems safe to say the run on relief pitchers started in the wee hours of Thursday morning at baseball’s winter meetings.
After news broke that Jeurys Familia was returning to the New York Mets on a three-year, $30 million deal, the next domino fell quickly. Joe Kelly, another coveted relief arm, would be going cross-country — joining the Los Angeles Dodgers on a three-year deal worth a reported $25 million after winning a World Series with the Boston Red Sox.
Ken Rosenthal and Robert Murray of The Athletic were first to report the deal was close and Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan confirmed it, plus added the financial details:
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 13, 2018
Kelly, 30, is from Southern California and when he’s on, can be one of the toughest relief pitchers in baseball to hit. What’s kept him from being elite is that he’s not always on. Last year with Boston he had 4.39 ERA in 65.2 innings and 68 strikeouts in that time. He was great in the World Series against the Dodgers, though, appearing in all five games, pitching six innings and not allowing a run. In 2017, he had a 2.79 ERA in 58 innings.
In an ideal world, Kelly is the lock-down setup man before Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, forming a difficult tandem for any opposing team to handle. Kelly has a dangerous mix of pitches (sinker, slider, curve, change-up) plus a fastball that can hit 99 mph.
Dodger fans will also remember him for another reason: In the 2013 NLCS Kelly was pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals and hit Hanley Ramirez, then with the Dodgers, and broke his rib. Many Dodgers fans believe that injury prevented them from beating the Cardinals that year and going to the World Series.
Ramirez and Kelly would eventually be teammates on the Red Sox and had fun with their history:
— Hanley Ramirez ⚾️ (@HanleyRamirez) February 24, 2015
Now it’ll be time for Dodgers fans to forgive Kelly too.
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