Who is Joe Kelly?

Well, the score wasn’t what I expected it to be, but the team I expected won. The commercials were the best part, but I digress. I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Bad enough I have to listen to my son-in-law about it ad nausem,

Back to Joe Kelly. Who really is Joe Kelly? Is he an evil villan who broke Hanley Ramirez’ hand and cost the Dodgers a shot at a Championship? The cover photo was one Hanley Ramirez with a choke hold on Kelly, saying “I finally got him back.” Joe and Hanley were friends on the Red Sox, so I think Hanley doesn’t feel that way.

I have been called the Great Optimist for many reasons, but recently because I have called Joe Kelly a great upgrade. In the Skeptic’s House, they wonder which Joe will show, and when….. That’s a fair question because Joe Kelly has certainly had an up and down career which includes the latest chapter where he was light’s out in the 2018 World Series.

Andrew Friedman wasted little time in signing him to a nice (for him) three-year contract. He has shuffled between the bullpen and starting from 2012 up until 2017. During that time, he started 79 games. Since them, he has been used exclusively in relief. Interestingly, he has not been a strikeout pitcher most of his career even his fastball averages 98.98 MPH (just call it 99), though he has shown more of a proclivity at the strikeout lately.

Yes, you’re reading that right–Kelly’s fastball averaged 98.9 mph. It has touched as high as 102 mph in 2017, a career-high. It didn’t just have velocity though, it also has excellent armside moveement and is death on hitters, generating plenty of whiffs and giving up just a .179 average.

Joe Kelly made a major change in the way he pitches, starting in the offseason of 2016, where he put up a 5.18 ERA and he was also a spot starter.  In 2017 his ERA was  2.79.  Early last season, he was also lights’ out and really had only 4 rough outings that raised his ERA. Of course, the Dodgers saw up close and personal what he can do in the World Series.

I guess you could say that Joe Kelly is evolving and evolution can happen quickly or over a number of years. Frankly, Joe Kelly is still learning to pitch and the Dodgers think he can harness his control even more by smoothing out and repeating his mechanics. I will warn you that he could look bad in the Spring as they start on this.

I think Martin and Barnes will help in his evolution, and while I hate to say it, he really could be what Brandon Morrow was, or he could be a LH Andrew Miller. Most likely, he’s that “bridge” to Kenley who is also re-energized and re-focused. There will be no World Series Hangover this year. These boys are hungry and the team is loaded. You are in for another fun ride.

By the way, Hanley is still available…

This article has 54 Comments

  1. I watched the game. Can’t say I felt any sadness with the outcome. The Rams will return.

    Both teams had good game plans. No need to say one was any better than the other.

  2. I always hold my optimism until the pitchers and catchers report. That signifies for me the start of the then current season, and at that point I am 100% behind the team as built. OK, until the trade deadline, and then I start again. Until that day, I always try to think of ways that the team can be improved. I always focus on pitching and defense, because for me that is what wins championships.
    I have always believed the Dodgers are a very good team, but one that can be improved, but not by a lot of little tweaking. By that I mean, the team does not need a Gio Gonzalez or Wade Miley who may very well have fantastic seasons, but they are not better than what the team already has. Which of the projected starting five would either of them replace? But Corey Kluber is another matter. Kluber would fit nicely in the rotation and would improve it. So if no Kluber (or Syndergaard), move on. Don’t settle.
    I am a hawk on defense up the middle which is why I was an advocate for AJ Pollock and DJLM very early on. Heck, I was on DJLM back last April. But no to Josh Harrison, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis, or even Jed Lowrie…I know some disagree, but I believe that DJLM would be an improvement over CT3 or Kike’ or Max primarily because of his GG defense, but also because of his bat to ball skills. DJLM is now a Yankee so I am fine with the Dodgers playing CT3 or Max at 2B.
    I was not as strong of a advocate as JTR as are many, but I do see him as an offensive improvement over Barnes/Martin, but not defensively. I still believe that Barnes will improve his offense because he has always hit. But it is in his defense and framing skills where he shines. I know many fans do not think much of framing skills, but pitchers do.
    Now to the bullpen. I was very pleased to see the Dodgers sign Joe Kelly. There is no question that Kelly’s arm is elite. It is his command and control that were his downfalls…and pitch tipping. After a late season meeting with the BoSox pitching coach, Kelly changed his set position from his chest to his waist. This little subtle change was a huge factor in eliminating his pitch tipping. But even more importantly was a significant change in his pitch selection. Kelly is known to have elite speed for his 4 seamer, and elite spin for his curveball. After the meeting, Kelly changed his repertoire to where he increased his usage on the fastball and curveball and totally (100%) abandoned the slider.
    There is a very good article written by Mike Petriello, MLB columnist about Joe Kelly. Yes, Petriello is a stat geek, but one with a lot of knowledge. For the Kelly skeptics, hopefully the below link will give you some solace.
    But while I like Joe Kelly, I am not at all satisfied that the bullpen cannot be improved. I have no illusions that the Dodgers will trade for a significant reliever before the season. I have no knowledge as to who may even be available. But I do hope that if relievers like Ryan Pressly or Keone Kela, become available this trade deadline that AF does not pass on them, and instead trade for the likes of John Axford, Zac Rosscup, and Ryan Madson. If it doesn’t improve the team, don’t do it.

        1. I think Axford, Rosscup, Goeddel, Madson, Venditte were just the bridge to Ferguson, Santana, Therrien, Kasowski, et al.

          Internal solutions verses external solutions.

          1. But what might have happened had they got Pressly and Kela last year instead of Axford and Rosscup? At some point you have to play to win now.

      1. They are currently listed at $198MM. But that $8MM current savings from the CBT threshold could be gone with potential Kershaw and Maeda incentives.

      2. By the way, on the right side of the front page of LADT you will find Dodgers Dashboard. Mark has a link there to Cot’s Contracts. That is a good resource to check the current contract total every team, including the Dodgers.

  3. Well, I’ll tip my hat to the Pats. There are no words as to how excellent they are. The Rams came out flat on offense, the refs helped the Pats more than the Rams, but you can’t argue that these Patriots are a machine. I hope Brady keeps playing at least until he has #7. That would mean one dude has more rings than any other franchise. Remarkable that he has six.

    I’m with you AC, I’m fully behind this team. I’m still holding out hope for Harper, JTRM and Kluber. You’re convinced me (and my brother too), that Kluber is even better for this team than JTRM. My bro’s logic is that you are replacing your 4th starter with another ace in a playoff series. I also agree that for the Dodgers especially, with their home field, that pitching and defense are the most important parts of the game for a Championship. Add in the ability to manufacture runs, aggressive base-running, a little small ball at times and you can even out the peak and valleys with the offense. I’m fine that they missed on DJLM, mainly because of his splits. I think Taylor and Kike can become plus defenders at second base with a better bat than DJ. I could be wrong, but DJ’s road splits were horrendous. I’m also concerned about Muncy’s defense at 2B. I could just be hung up on a couple of plays last year, but he did not look comfortable there last year.

    The bullpen is where I mostly disagree. I think we’re stacked in the pen and it will be one of the best in baseball this year. I think Floro and Alexander are going to take steps forward after a little more experience. Baez is finally turning into a beast. Kenley will be back to his normal self. Kelly is that missing setup piece. Stripling will be in the pen to start the season barring injuries for other starters. Julio will see time in the pen, Ferguson too. Thierren is a real dark horse that maybe turns into Morrow. There’s too many names to list all of them. This is a real strength, top to bottom.

    It’s still very crazy that Harper / Machado / Kuechel still haven’t signed. It’s looks pretty certain they fail to meet their contract expectations and that I doubt that we’ll see a postseason that develops this slow in the future. Right now, we’re good enough to start the season. We are the team to beat in the NL as currently constructed. The addition of Freese and Seager and replacing Puig with Pollock will help immensely against LHPs. I still think signing Harper will put us over the top and will be disappointed to see him wind up somewhere else. Signing Harper would allow us to trade Verdugo for Kluber or JTRM as well.

  4. I was reading an article about Marwin Gonzalez and discovered that he is yet another Scott Boras client. I then looked at the remaining name free agents and came to a count of 21. Of that 21, nine have Boras as their agent:
    Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, Mike Moustakas, Brad Boxberger, Carlos Gonzalez, Jeremy Hellickson, Jose Iglesias, and Oliver Perez. Of the remaining 12, no single agent has more than one of those clients.
    The Dodgers have five Boras clients: Seager, Bellinger, Ryu, Urias and Fields. No other agency has more than two: ACES (Levinsons) – Hill and Kelly; Excel Sports Agency (Casey Close) – Kershaw and Pollock; Beverly Hills Sports Council – Stripling and Yadi Alvarez.
    At some point you have to wonder who is getting Boras’ attention. Right Mike Moustakas? If I was Moose, I might question my representation. Maybe not.

  5. Kluber would have been a great addition to the Dodgers starting rotation,still hoping, but most likely not going to happen.

  6. Just a few comments on the Rams. Their offensive line needs several upgrades. It was amazing to me how much they were dominated. I checked and they are getting long in the tooth – it showed. Patriot line did a fine job guarding the ol guy (my sense is their average age, about 26). In my view that’s the difference in this disappointing SB.

    1. I had a pretty strong feeling the Rams defense could contain the Pats offense and except for Edleman and Gronk (2 guys I singled out as the main weapons) they did. I never thought the Pats could hold them to 3 points. Goff looked horrible, Gurley is either still injured or the coach blew it, and the play calling and adjustments were horrible. Where were the jet sweeps, screen passes, check downs, draws and counter plays and either tight end? Just a brutal performance and one of the worst SB’s in recent memory. This one will take awhile to get over, at least for me.

  7. Oh well. The Rams didn’t bring a ring to LA. They didn’t get get revenge on Boston.

    Next up on my to do list is Bryce Harper agreeing to a deal with the Dodgers, and Anthony Davis being traded to the Lakers. Let’s see if I can get those accomplished this week!

    1. I am intrigued with what Ball might become so that means Ingram, Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and a No. 1 pick would have to be included and that is not enough apparently to make the trade. Friedman would not make that trade.

      1. I think Lonzo has more worth than value at this point. He could be part of a championship team if all he has to do is facilitate and play defense, but I’m not sure he’s regarded as much throughout the league. They might be smart to hang onto him. Kuzma’s guaranteed gone in any deal; Zubac probably as well; Ingram I don’t view as a deal-breaker. I would trade those three without much thought. (I’m not including Hart because he’s not very good.)

        1. It will be interesting. there’s so much talking going on behind the scenes that everyone has an idea of where Kyrie, Durant, Kawahi, Klay, etc want to be next season. That info likely will factor into how much we pay/overpay for AD.

          Definitely going to be a fun week here, with the trade deadline Thursday

  8. Cleveland seems to be within their payroll goal so I wonder if they would take Hill for one year at $16Min exchange for Kluber at 3 years of $17M, $17M, $18M? Obviously the Dodgers would have to add pieces that might include an outfielder most likely Pederson or Verdugo plus B prospects.

    If Verdugo is traded the Dodgers could go all out for Haniger or move Bellinger to RF. Or, they sign Harper 😉

    1. I was thinking about trading Hill this morning but I think we need to give him his last shot with us this year before he moves on. even though he got to us late and isn’t going to stay much longer, I consdier him part of the core and I’d hate to give him up without one last shot. Maybe it’s a sentimental view but it’s mine. Was Puig part of our core?

    2. You are talking about DEPLEATING the farm.

      #1 – I don’t think Cleveland values Verdugo. They would want Ruiz and of course, the Dodgers would do that so that Ruiz doesn’t block Smith to make you happy.
      #2 – How many prospects would they have to trade to get Hamiger? All TOP 7?

      1. Why doesn’t someone trade us a bunch of guys for Seager or Bueller? Why is it that people think Hanniger is available for trade? Wouldn’t it cost more in prospects to trade for a guy who isn’t clearly available? Does an overpay sound like something Friedman would do for Hanniger, or anyone else?

        I think would should trade for Trout, he’s clearly the best player out there.

        How about we trade for Jose Ramirez and move JT back to 2B?

        Maybe we could trade for Altuve?

        No, let’s trade for Mookie Betts!

        So, let’s trade for a bunch of guys that aren’t available and not trade for Kluber or JTRM who are available. This makes way too much sense.

        Let’s see here. Kluber is 33 this year and will be paid 17M, 17.5 and 18 for the next three years 33-35.

        JTRM has 2 years left in arbitration. 6 Mil this year, 9 or 10 mil next.

        Nah, let’s trade for Hanniger who has 4 years of control and is making less than a million.

        Which guy do you think will command more in prospects?

  9. I would give the Rams more credit, because their coach kept Bradley confused on the defense, for three quarters.

    I have never seen Brady that disorientated that long.

    Like I said yesterday, the Rams we’re unwatchable until they hired their new young, and the youngest coach, in football.

    Because of the Ram’s coach alone, I think they will be back more then a few times.

    Like Mark predicted, the Patriots coach out managed the Ram’s coach at the end.

    Although any team is going to do well with a quarterback like Brady, that is not only more experienced then any quarterback in football, he is also a good quarterback too.

    And of course I was not surprised by who got the MVP either, because he almost always finds a way to help his team win, especially in big games.

  10. Hey, has Danny posted recently?

    I’m missing his insider knowledge, much better than idle speculation….

      1. Oh.

        I thought MJ wrote that he had been right a lot.

        I may have misread.

        Also, Baseball America had this to say about Jeren Kendall:

        Jeren Kendall isn’t happy with the results so far.

        So he spent time this offseason in LA with hitting guru Craig Wallenbrock and newly hired Dodgers hitting coach Robert Van Scoyoc.

        1. That may be good news. I have heard he was not that receptive to instruction in the past. If he could hit, he would be an All-Star!

  11. Wild Man Kelly can’t throw strikes consistently. Last season he had 32 walks in 65 innings. A short reliever who pitches the important innings can’t walk that many hitters and be effective. And as to his “evolution” as a pitcher, his career BB/9 is 3.7. His numbers have gone the wrong way, by the way. He switched to the bullpen part way through the 2016 season and here are is BB/9 numbers:

    2018 BB/9 – 4.4
    2017 – 4.2
    2016 – 5.4

    The Dodgers’ bullpen was 2nd worst in the league in blown saves last season. When talking about how “unclutch” the Dodgers were last season, a big part of the problem was the inability to pitch well in the late innings. To last season’s unclutch group they added a guy who can’t throw strikes. The fact that he did in the Series – can you say small sample size? Yimi Garcia was the only reliever on the roster with a higher WHIP than Kelly’s 1.355 in 2018.

    The Dodgers have 2 weaknesses going into the 2019 season – catcher and the bullpen. Kelly doesn’t solve the bullpen problem. Beware making performance projections based on the outcome of a 5 game World Series. Look at Kelly’s 2018 – heck, look at his 3 year career as a reliever, or his 7 year major league career.

      1. They signed Morrow to a minor league deal and brought him up in May. They signed Kelly to a multi-year deal worth millions. Big difference.

        1. For his career, Aroldis Chapman averages a 4.2 BB/9 innings.

          Over Joe Kelly’s career, he averages 3.7BB/9.

          I think you are over-reacting and reaching.

          Craig Kimbrell 3.5/9
          Brandon Morrow 3.9
          Dellin Betances 4.0

          You are over-reacting.

  12. I just read 8 teams are still checking in on Harper, although a few of those teams, are looking for a shorter contract.

    1. On MLBN just now, they were talking about Machado possibly considering signing a one-year deal and trying again next offseason. Doesn’t make sense to me. Just sit out if your principles are so violated.

      1. I agree that doesn’t sound right for Machado.

        Although two or three years, I can see with Harper especially to a team he really would love to go to, because he didn’t have that great of a year last year.

        And Harper has not been consistent, and he has had trouble at times, staying on the field.

      2. If his attitude teams saw in the post season are limiting contracts to fewer years and fewer dollars then instead of being stuck with such a contract long term why not take a one year contract and use it to erase doubts about his attitude?

        1. Because he would likely leave $170 million on the table and you never know what tomorrow brings.

  13. Some are saying that Machado still has his heart set on the Yankees, but the Yankees are not that interested with Machado.

  14. I’m bored so I’m playing with numbers. AC, I hope you’ll call me on it if I’ve screwed up here since you’re the finance guy around here.
    Harper averages about 4 WAR for the 7 years he’s played in the majors and Muncy averages 4 WAR for his time with the Dodgers and his short time with the A’s.
    Muncy will earn about 600 k this year. If his performance is cut in half from last year’s and he has a 2 WAR year that will mean he’s being paid about 300 k per WAR.
    Let’s say Harper is paid 30 mil in 2019 (probably a low guess) and let’s say he has a 4 WAR year (he’s only done that in 3 out of his 7 seasons). That will mean he’s being paid 7.5 mil per WAR.
    That will also mean on a WAR adjusted basis he’s being paid 25 times as much as Muncy.
    OK, that filled up a few minutes on a non-newsy rainy afternoon.

      1. The Dodgers should do something. We had a death in the US Water Family this week and we lost a valued employee with 4 children and an ill wife. We made the decision to direct deposit his check for another month and set up a trust fund for his kids which we will fund for 5 years. It was the right thing to do. The Dodgers should do something for this fan’s family!

        By the way, thank you to those who contributed. You will be repaid in ways you can never imagine. Pay it forward. The blessings are many.

  15. So another Los Angeles team lost the big game. Not that I care about football. Was a Raider fan all my life, but gave up on football several years ago when it went downhill in terms of who they let into the game, and how they have allowed it to become so boring and predictable. But one thing is certain, Brady and Belechick are the GOAT.

    The Dodgers, and baseball, both my favorites of all time. Dodgers will not go to the World Series this year with basically the same club. AF is rolling the dice one time too often with this lineup imo and he will need best years out of all of them to get there.

    1. Same team?

      New SS
      New 2B
      New C
      New RF
      Couple of new P
      Joe Kelly
      Healthy Jansen

      Malcontents gone
      New hitting philosophy
      Farhan gone

      It sounds far from the same to me.

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