Joe Kelly was lights out in the playoffs in 2018. The hard-throwing righty went 11 innings, striking out 13 and not issuing a single walk. He allowed just one earned run, posting a 0.79 ERA in the process. However, Kelly hasn’t been quite effective this year for the Dodgers, surrendering four home runs, striking out 20 and walking eight. He has allowed 17 earned runs in 19.1 innings pitched, equating to an ERA of 7.91.
While, as a whole, this year doesn’t look great so far, Kelly might have found something. In his last 5 games, he has posted 3.00 ERA which might not seem like much but it’s definitely an improvement from where he started for sure.
I decided this winter to be a Joe Kelly fan. As soon as I heard he had been signed by the Dodgers, my mind went through quite a few possibilities. I saw Kelly as someone who could be as incredible as Brandon Morrow was in 2017. I was hoping that, if necessary, he could be a backup closer but that job seems to have gone to Pedro Baez, who could be the Dodgers’ best set-up man at the moment. I maintain that Kelly could still be great for Los Angeles down the stretch run of 2019.
Right now, it seems like Kelly is struggling with a few things. One of the struggles that Kelly is dealing with is throwing strikes, as his current his walk rate is 3.7. When Kelly is throwing strikes batters are hitting at a .325 clip so far this year. In 2018, Kelly held opponents to a .232 batting average. He posted an overall record of 4-2 with a 4.39 ERA and a 68/32 strikeout to walk ratio while only giving up four home runs.
His best season in recent years was 2017 where batters were only hitting .202. During that campaign, Kelly went 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was 52/27. The Dodgers know what Joe Kelly is capable of and so does Joe Kelly. In fact, I think he is going to be in for a huge turn around for the remainder of the season. I believe Kelly is very capable of posting a sub 2 ERA during the later month’s of the season. He’s off to a good start in June so far, so hopefully he has a strong month and has a dominant rest of the regular season on the way to a successful postseason.