Dodgers Fans: We Need to Make Amends With Joe Kelly

It’s not official yet, but Joe Kelly is a Los Angeles Dodger. In case you missed it, the Dodgers and Joe Kelly agreed to a contract this week, pending a physical. That deal is also pending a move on the 40 man roster that could be anyone’s guess.

The move is designed to help shore up the bullpen, which while posting the best ERA in the NL from May 17th and on (3.33), was again a weakness for the team in October.

In and of itself, it’s a good baseball move. However, Joe Kelly and the Dodgers have a history with one another… and Dodgers fans know this all too well.

The Bad

Joe Kelly came up with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 (do I need to continue beyond that?). In the 2013, the Dodgers and the Cardinals faced off against each other in the NLCS. That Dodgers team some had heralded as one of the best Dodgers clubs in decades. A young and slugging Adrian Gonzalez, a Cy Young award winning Clayton Kershaw, cult heroes Nick Punto and Juan Uribe… and a locked in shortstop named Hanley Ramirez.

I’ll let friend Bill Plunkett of the OC Register recall what happened:

Kelly started Game 1 of the 2013 National League Championship Series for the St. Louis Cardinals and hit Hanley Ramirez with a pitch in the first inning. Ramirez suffered a fractured rib. The Dodgers’ offense – and their postseason hopes – withered with Ramirez playing hurt.

The Dodgers lost in 6 games.

In 2018 with the Boston Red Sox, Joe Kelly had a “Hall of Fame” performance against the Dodgers in the World Series. Kelly appeared in all 5 games against LA, allowing no runs while striking out 10 of the 22 batters he faced.

Oh, I’m not being dramatic about that Hall of Fame statement either… thanks to that performance, his glasses were added to a display in Cooperstown honoring the 2018 world champs.

The Good

Joe Kelly is actually a So Cal native. He grew up in Corona, and still lives in Rancho Cucamonga. And if he’s not beaning or beating the Dodgers, we’ll actually all come to learn that he’s a pretty good guy. He’s that classic player you hate to play against, but love to have on your team.


I’ve done my research on the guy; he’s a funny dude:


Homie can boogie with the best of them:


He’s also a guy that will defend his teammates and face the consequences with style. #JoeKellyFightClub


This is perhaps, the most important note about this free agent signing:

Looking Forward

People look at his numbers and may think “we signed this guy?”, while other brands of people will look at Kelly and see the unfocused potential in that power right arm of his.

During his meeting with the club, Joe Kelly was said to be blown away by the way the Dodgers pitch.

This is absolutely an underlying example of what the analytics team has his store with his pitch usage. Our Blake Williams pointed this out earlier in the week:

Looking into the deal more, Kelly’s main problem is he throws his fastball 47.5% of the time. His fastball spin rate averaged 2251 rpm last season, which is not ideal. That basically means his fastball is flat and even with high velocity, major league hitters are going to square that up.

He only threw his curveball, his best pitch, 19% of the time. His curve had a spin rate of 3103 rpm which would be the 8th best in the league.

His 2nd best pitch, his changeup, was thrown 10% of the time. And his 3rd best pitch, his slider, accounted for 16% of his pitches.

He also has a sinker that he should drop, which he threw 8% of the time.


Joe Kelly is a Los Angeles Dodger… I’m not mad about it, you shouldn’t be either.

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