There is no doubt that the White Sox need some help in the bullpen and there just happens to be a good, veteran pitcher available.
Kelly has been in the MLB for seven years playing first for the St. Louis Cardinals and then the Boston Red Sox. And, in the 2018 World Series, he is showcasing serious relief abilities and quickly becoming a household name.
His early career
Kelly started his career as a starting pitcher with 79 starts to his name. He moved to the bullpen in 2016 with the Red Sox and hasn’t looked back. He had six starts that year, but suffered a shoulder injury and a groin injury that kept him off the mound for most June and July. That season was his worst, as he posted an ERA of 5.18.
Looking at his 2017 and 2018 regular season stats, he looks like a pitcher who has up and down seasons. His 2017 season was significantly better than 2018, with an ERA of 2.79 and a WHIP of 1.190. In 2018, he posted an ERA of 4.39 and a WHIP of 1.355. He gave up a total of seven home runs in 2017 and 2018.
What we, the fans, want to see with relief pitchers is a big fat zero in the run category. In 2017, Kelly pitched in 54 games. In 12 of those games he gave up earned runs. Those games were against teams like the Yankees, Cubs, and Astros. Otherwise, he posted goose eggs in 42 games.
In 2018, he pitched in 73 games. He gave up runs in 17 of the games. His worst game in 2018 was the first one, against the Tampa Bay Rays – who were the Achilles Heel for the Red Sox. He also struggled a bit against the Toronto Blue Jays, too.
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But, in the post-season, Kelly has been the guy to go to for successful innings. He has been the perennial post-season go-to pitcher for the Cardinals and the Red Sox. His only trouble was in 2013 when he was with the Cardinals as a starting pitcher – he posted an ERA Of 4.15. He did get a win in Game Three – ironically, against the Red Sox, who did win the Fall Classic that year.
In relief in the post-season, he has been one of the best. Boston has been in the post-season in 2016, 2017, and 2018, and he did not accumulate any earned runs until 2018 in the game on October 17 against the Astros. He hasn’t added an earned run since.
What makes Kelly so impressive is his velocity. In the World Series game on October 27, Fox Sports was showing speeds up to 103 MPH on his fastball. He already has some of the fastest pitches in the MLB according to Statcast. Hitting spots at speeds over 100 MPH is amazing, but being able to follow it up with an 84 MPH curve ball makes him nearly unhittable. At age 30, he would be not only valuable on the mound, but in the clubhouse as a mentor to the young pitchers like Carson Fulmer, Jace Fry, and Aaron Bummer.
He is a free agent at the end of the season and it is likely that several teams will be trying to get him on their 25-man roster. Hopefully, Rick Hahn can open up the pocketbook and cough up something that Kelly’s agent cannot refuse. He made $3.8 million in 2018. He’d look great in White Sox pinstripes.