The Craig Kimbrel experiment was a complete disaster last season. While the Chicago White Sox picked up his $16 million dollar club option, don’t expect to see him pitching on the Southside next season. The White Sox will likely trade the future Hall of Famer meaning that they will be scanning the market for some bullpen help.
The back end of the bullpen is in need of some work. With Micheal Kopech slated to join the starting rotation and Evan Marshall on his way out, Rick Hahn has his work cut out for him this offseason. Luckily for him, a proven commodity is set to hit the open market. The Los Angeles Dodgers declined reliever Joe Kelly’s $12 million dollar club option.
Joe Kelly is coming off his best season in a Dodger uniform. After undergoing shoulder surgery to remove a cyst, he dominated when he returned to the lineup in May. Kelly posted a 2.86 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP, which is a new career-best. These numbers came in one of the best divisions in the National League, which featured a 100 win San Francisco Giants team and a menacing San Diego Padres lineup.
Even more promising is that Kelly actually threw harder post-surgery than he did heading into the offseason. However, it was the changeup that was the key to his success. Kelly threw his changeup 115 times, the most since he joined the Dodgers in 2019.
This uptick in offspeed pitches helped set up his fastball and make it even more effective. The results speak for themselves. Kelly struck out 27.5 percent of batters he faced. He picked up a pair of saves and had 13 holds.
Joe Kelly would be a great fit for the Chicago White Sox bullpen going into 2022.
Kelly has a career ERA of 3.83 throughout 10 Major League seasons. He has pitched in some big games as well earning two World Series rings. His wealth of postseason experience should make him even more intriguing for a White Sox team looking to take the next step. In 40 postseason games, Kelly has a respectable 3.55 ERA. In the 2018 World Series, he went 1-0 and had a perfect 0.00 ERA for the Boston Red Sox.
Kelly would also fit in perfectly with the White Sox change the game mantra. He has a colorful personality that would be a great fit on the Southside. He wore a mariachi jacket to the White House. He got the jacket by trading a jersey to a trumpet player that was at Dodger Stadium to perform.
He has sported a mullet and a wild mustache. One of the highlights of his career was when he threw at Alex Bregman and then mocked Carlos Correa after he ended the inning with a strikeout. Him paired with Liam Hendriks would be a duo of personalities too good to pass up.
Kelly also is more of a natural fit in the setup role than Craig Kimbrel was. Unlike Kimbrel, Kelly is used to pitching in the seventh and eighth innings. Kelly did have to leave the NLCS early in Game 5 because of a right bicep injury that ended his season.
He is expected to undergo surgery this offseason but should be ready for spring training. A return to LA is certainly possible but considering the White Sox are looking to trade Kimbrel and free up $16 million dollars, Kelly would certainly be in their price range. The White Sox should definitely take a hard look at the 33-year old. He could be just what the bullpen is missing.