Joe Kelly
Joe Kelly
30-Year-Old PitcherRP
Los Angeles Dodgers
2019 Fantasy Outlook
Kelly endured a roller-coaster 2018 campaign. The flamethrower allowed four runs and recorded just one out in his season debut (in late March) but responded by not allowing a run in April (0.53 WHIP, 10:1 K:BB in 11.1 innings). Kelly's inconsistency continued, as the right-hander posted an ERA north of 8.30 in three of the following months (June, July and September) while keeping his ERA below 1.50 in the other three months (May, August and October), including a 0.79 ERA and 13:0 K:BB across 11.1 playoff frames for the eventual World Series champions. While the 30-year-old saw a jump in his strikeout rate, his 9.3 K/9 still seems somewhat disappointing for a late-inning arm with a 98.5 mph average fastball. Kelly appears primed to serve as Kenley Jansen's top setup man after signing a three-year, $25 million deal with the Dodgers in free agency. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $21 million contract with the Dodgers in December of 2018. Contract includes a $12 million team option ($4 million buyout) for 2022.
Records three strikeouts in return
PLos Angeles Dodgers
March 17, 2019
Kelly recorded three strikeouts and did not allow a baserunner over one inning during Saturday's spring game against the White Sox.
Kelly was previously dealing with a back issue but looked fully ready for the regular season Saturday. According to Bill Plunkett of The Orange County Register, the 30-year-old will throw a bullpen session Sunday as he ramps up his workload in preparation for the regular season.
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Pitching Stats
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Minor League Game Log
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Left/Right Pitching Splits
Since 2016
BAA Batters K BB H 2B 3B HR
Since 2016vs Left .227 287 70 45 54 6 2 6
Since 2016vs Right .239 424 98 38 89 16 3 6
2018vs Left .211 126 33 12 24 3 2 2
2018vs Right .254 159 35 20 33 3 1 2
2017vs Left .222 94 22 20 16 1 0 1
2017vs Right .191 144 30 7 26 6 0 2
2016vs Left .269 67 15 13 14 2 0 3
2016vs Right .283 121 33 11 30 7 2 2
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Home/Away Pitching Splits
Since 2016
ERA at Home
ERA at Home
ERA on Road
ERA at Home
Since 2016Home 3.43 1.30 75.0 5 1 0 8.4 4.1 0.4
Since 2016Away 4.52 1.45 87.2 7 2 2 10.0 4.9 0.9
2018Home 3.72 1.21 29.0 0 1 0 8.4 3.4 0.0
2018Away 4.91 1.47 36.2 4 1 2 10.1 5.2 1.0
2017Home 4.55 1.37 27.2 2 0 0 7.2 3.9 0.7
2017Away 1.19 1.02 30.1 2 1 0 8.9 4.5 0.3
2016Home 1.40 1.34 19.1 3 0 0 10.2 5.6 0.5
2016Away 8.71 2.03 20.2 1 0 0 11.3 5.2 1.7
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Stat Review
How does Joe Kelly compare to other relievers?
This section compares his stats with all relief pitcher seasons from the previous three seasons (minimum 30 innings). The bar represents the player's percentile rank. For example, if the bar is halfway across, then the player falls into the 50th percentile for that stat and it would be considered average.
98.1 mph
Strand %
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Kelly was coming off of what was arguably the worst statistical season of his career in 2016 (5.18 ERA over 40 innings), but the veteran reliever twirled a dominant final month of the season which helped establish him as one of Boston's more reliable relief arms heading into 2018 campaign. After some offseason mechanical adjustments, Kelly saw his fastball velocity significantly increase to a blistering average of 99 mph. Unfortunately, this uptick in velocity didn't correlate to better strikeout numbers, as his strikeout rate actually fell nearly four percentage points to a very pedestrian 21.9 percent rate. His walk rate remained high (11.3 percent), but he was able to greatly suppress his home-run rate en route to a 2.79 ERA (3.49 FIP) over 58 innings of relief. Despite his improvements, Kelly's still a middle reliever with strikeout and command issues -- that isn't a very appealing combination in fantasy.
Joe Kelly teased the Red Sox in 2016 with his high-90s fastball but would often lose his mechanics, missing the strike zone, and failed to use his secondary pitches enough. In six starts, he had an ERA of 8.46 while giving up 31 hits and 19 walks in 22.1 innings. He was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket, where the organization decided to transition him to a reliever, a role for which many in MLB thought he was best suited. He took to it quite well, posting a 0.56 ERA in 13 appearances with the PawSox. Kelly continued to be effective when called up in September, putting up a 0.64 ERA while striking out 20 and walking three in 14 innings for Boston to close out the season. He added three scoreless and hitless postseason frames against the Indians. Manager John Farrell attributed his success to an improved slider. His dominant finish to the season sealed Kelly's fate as a full-time, mid-to-late-inning reliever in 2017.
Kelly has intoxicating velocity that keeps him interesting even as he continues to pile up mediocre results. He looked good in 2012-13, but his best work was done in the bullpen while he lucked into good results as a starter despite a 1.6 K/BB ratio in 31 starts. He's been a full-time starter since and the mediocrity has shown itself clearly with a 4.57 ERA and 1.9 K/BB ratio in 231 innings. His best secondary pitch is a changeup that helps him neutralize lefties with just a 29-point platoon split. The problem is that he just allows too much contact leaving him open to variance like the .274 to .320 BABIP jump we saw in 2015. Further exacerbating the issue is that his strikeout pitch - the slider - gets lit up any time it doesn't generate a strikeout (.908 OPS, 33% K rate since 2014). There are some intriguing elements, but his MLB work marries well with his minor league track record so it's hard to project a major jump for him as a starter.
Kelly posted a 2.69 ERA over 37 appearances – 15 starts – in 2013 and opened last season as the Cardinals' fifth starter. There were red flags, particularly with his strikeout and walk rates, as Kelly's xFIP in 2013 (4.19) indicated that a sub-3.00 simply wasn't sustainable. That proved to be true, and while Kelly pitched reasonably well, he was sidelined after three starts by a hamstring injury that kept him out of action for three months. Upon his return, he was hit hard and then traded to Boston in the John Lackey deal. With Boston's starting rotation decimated by trades and the team relying on young starting prospects, the 26-year-old Kelly became the team's No. 2 starter. Even with the offseason changes in the rotation, Kelly is expected to begin the year with one of the five starting spots. He may be ideally suited for the bullpen, where his fastball will have even more velocity (he averaged 94.7 mph on the pitch in 2014) and he won't have to rely as much on his secondary offerings.
Kelly started the season as a long-relief arm out of the bullpen before getting a shot in the rotation at the start of July. Kelly took the opportunity and ran with it, posting an 11-2 record with a 2.32 ERA over his final 14 starts. Despite an excellent showing in the rotation for the Cardinals, Kelly's role for the start of 2014 is murky. The Cardinals have a talented group of young arms to put behind ace Adam Wainwright and Kelly is a good bet to make the rotation next season, but it's far from a guarantee that he will stick if he ends up solidifying a spot when spring training breaks in March.
Kelly started 16 games for the Cardinals last year and threw eight in relief, where he was far more successful. In 91.1 innings as a starter, he had a respectable 3.74 ERA but a not-as-respectable 1.41 WHIP and 59:32 K:BB. Meanwhile, as a reliever, he threw 15.2 innings and finished with a 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 16:4 K:BB ratio. Naturally, the Cardinals are planning on using him as a starter this year. He's still just 24, and has room to grow, but it would be nice to see the K:BB ratio improve a bit before throwing him into the rotation for good.
More Fantasy News
Throwing off mound
PLos Angeles Dodgers
March 8, 2019
Kelly (back) is throwing off a mound Friday, Ken Gurnick of reports.
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Scratched with back issue
PLos Angeles Dodgers
March 7, 2019
Kelly was scratched from his scheduled appearance Wednesday due to back tightness, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports.
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Agrees to terms with Dodgers
PLos Angeles Dodgers
December 13, 2018
Kelly agreed to a three-year, $25 million contract with the Dodgers early Thursday morning, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports.
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Booed off mound Thursday
PBoston Red Sox
September 14, 2018
Kelly allowed one run on one hit, one walk and two hit batsmen without retiring a batter in the eighth inning of Thursday's 4-3 win over the Blue Jays.
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Blows up Friday
PBoston Red Sox
September 8, 2018
Kelly (4-2) allowed three runs on four hits while striking out one over one inning to take the loss Friday against Houston.
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