Dodgers: Joe Kelly Is Becoming a Reliable Option for the Bullpen
The Dodgers are the first team to reach 50 wins, but it has not come easy. There is no question that the bullpen has had its struggles, and a lot of it lies in the arms of right-hander Joe Kelly.
In the offseason, the Dodgers signed Kelly to a 3-year deal for $25 million, in hopes of having a dominant setup man. Due to his success in the postseason with the Red Sox, the Dodgers were optimistic that Kelly would be a great addition.
As the 2019 season came around, Kelly got off to a rocky start. Prior to May 8, he had a 10.13 ERA and opponents were hitting .377 against him. He pitched 13 innings and had 13 strikeouts, three walks, and allowed three home runs.
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Many Dodger fans were quick to ride Kelly off, as they wondered where the pitcher who dominated them in World Series was. During the 2018 World Series, Kelly went six innings with zero earned runs and 10 strikeouts. With Kelly being one of the highest-signed free-agents over the last few seasons, he was held to a higher standard than anyone else in the Dodgers bullpen.
However, Kelly has been able to turn things around as of late and could still give the Dodgers the setup man they envisioned when they signed him. Since May 8, Kelly has a 2.45 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 11 innings. Opponents are currently hitting .171 against him, and he is quickly becoming a much more reliable option out of the pen.
Kelly has been able to drop his ERA on the season from 10.12 on May 8, down to 6.66 as of June 19. He has only been used in low-leverage situations as of late, and pitching with big leads seems to be the only spot Dave Roberts has confidence in.
The Dodgers can only hope that Kelly maintains his success on the mound, as this could put less pressure on the front office acquiring bullpen help at the deadline. If Kelly is able to continue this stretch of dominance, he could turn out to be the most valuable member of the bullpen.