Old foes can become friends, and that is what seems to be happening between the Dodgers and Joe Kelly. The 30-year-old righty reliever is reportedly in agreement to sign with Los Angeles, pending a physical.
Kelly has a tumultuous reputation with the Dodgers, starting in 2013 when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He threw an inside pitch in Game 1 of the NLCS that broke Hanley Ramirez‘s rib, rendering him out for the rest of the series. The Cardinals ended up going on to the World Series, only to lose to the Boston Red Sox. Kelly later joined those Red Sox, and was lights out against the Dodgers in this past World Series.
All will be forgiven if Kelly can help the Dodgers capture a World Championship of their own. He can touch 103 MPH on the radar gun and will make an excellent bridge to get to closer Kenley Jansen.
That is, if he pitches like he did in the postseason and not how he pitched during the regular season. Alex Cora stated that Kelly almost didn’t make the postseason roster after his subpar 2018, where he had a 4.73 ERA, 3.57 FIP and 1.36 WHIP over 73 innings pitched. He also had 68 strikeouts and 32 walks.
But he made a change late in the season, and was very good in the postseason, striking out 13, walking none, and only allowing one earned run in 11-1/3 innings of work. His problem was with his command, and seemingly has made a change for the better. Working with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt surely will help.
Kelly is a Southern California native, born in Anaheim and went to college at UC Riverside. His reported deal is for three years and $25 million. He would be the 41st man on the 40-man roster, so look for more moves to come soon. The Dodgers are still said to be deep in talks with the Cincinnati Reds and perhaps the Cleveland Indians.