This past Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired starter Lance Lynn and Reliever Joe Kelly from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for outfielder Trayce Thompson, starter Nick Nastrini, and reliever Jordan Leasure.
Regardless of how you feel about the long-term impact of the Dodgers' most recent trade, Lynn and Kelly could give the 2023 unit something they could use down the stretch: Experience.
Of course, the Dodgers’ lineup is stacked with experienced bats such as Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, and J.D. Martinez, but the same can not be said of their pitching staff.
Outside of Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, and Julio Urías, there are not many pitchers on the roster who’ve had long-term success. Further, even the mentioned arms have not had to adapt to different roles over their careers in the same way that Lynn and Kelly have for multiple organizations.
Lynn debuted with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011, and won a World Series with the club that same season. In fact, he pitched ten games out of the bullpen that Postseason and would later become one of the Cards' more reliable forces during the Pennant-winning 2013 campaign.
From 2011 to 2017, Lynn started 161 regular season games and also came on in relief a handful of times. Once he departed St. Louis, his role became more defined. His stints with the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, and Chicago White Sox saw him find a role as a back-end starter.
But it can't be forgotten that Lynn made October appearances as both a starter and a reliever during this time. This flexibility could be important for a Dodger pitching staff that has had to “plug and play” all season long due to injuries. Rumor has it Lynn may ultimately be used as a reliever before the 2023 season is up so that his fastball may play up.
Even though his 2023 marks are not pretty, one should not discount what a new climate, combined with experience, could net for a grizzled veteran who's never had "overpowering" stuff.
Lance Lynn to join Joe Kelly in Dodgers bullpen?
Joe Kelly also made his MLB debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. Just one year after Lynn broke into the majors, Kelly emerged as a similar talent who could either start or come out of the bullpen.
Later in his career, the California native became a more traditional middle reliever. In particular, his time with the Boston Red Sox and his first stint with the boys in blue both included moments in which he was the “emotional anchor” of the bullpen.
Kelly’s Fenway Park brawl with former New York Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin and his now infamous confrontation with former Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa helped mold him into a superb clubhouse presence who could contribute to a championship-caliber team in more ways than one.
Not only are the Dodgers getting an arm who’s posted an imperfect yet serviceable career 3.98 ERA, but they’re also receiving an individual with contagious swagger. Young pitchers such as Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan could learn a great deal from the 35-year-old journeyman.
It’s clear that Lynn and Kelly are by no means the “sexiest” pickups that LA could have landed, but they have unique careers and perspectives that could aid the club as they journey towards October baseball.