Joe Kelly will forever be in the hearts of Red Sox fans as he struck out the side in the eighth inning during the World Series clincher this year. He’s also gained some lighthearted attention for his national anthem standoff with Scott Van Slyke of the Dodgers when he was with the Cardinals. But he’s no longer going to be in Boston as he’s signed a three year contract with the Dodgers worth $25 million.
When Kelly first came to the Red Sox back in 2014 he was used as a starter, but transitioned over to the bullpen starting in 2017. Since that move, he’s been able to use a knuckle curve and low spin rate fastball to keep batters on their toes and limiting homeruns by having a lot of folks only hit grounders.
While he’s produced decent numbers during the regular season (he had a .5 WAR with 68 strikeouts over 65.2 innings and a 1.355 WHIP in 2018), it’s the postseason that likely allowed him to get a large contract. He only gave up two runs during the 2018 championship run (both in the ALCS and only one was earned) and eight hits in 11.1 innings. He also struck out 13 of the 44 batters he faced during the postseason, with 10 of those strikeouts coming during the World Series.
There are plenty of reasons why players decide to sign with a new team, especially after their current one just won the World Series. It appears as though length of contract was a big one for Kelly as he’s said the Dodgers were the only team to offer him a three year deal and that’s where he ended up going. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that his offseason home is 45 minutes away from Dodgers Stadium and the move would put him with another historic organization that’s a World Series contender.
It’s never fun for fans to see someone like Kelly leave the organization — especially after role he played in the playoffs — but most folks understand his decision to leave and wish him well. The obvious result of Kelly’s departure, however, is that Boston will need to find someone to replace him — something that could become even more complicated if Craig Kimbrel ends up leaving town.
Adam Ottavino spent last year with the Colorado Rockies and is one potential pickup for Boston. He’s produced decent numbers and definitely has a lot of confidence as he recently said he “would strike Babe Ruth out every time.” The quote was given in the middle of a discussion about how Ottavino thinks the game’s changed over the years and Ruth might not do as well in general, but it still says a lot about his confidence.
David Robertson is another potential relief pitcher the Red Sox could go after. He spent last year with the New York Yankees and had 91 strike outs over 69.2 innings while holding batters to a .183 average and a 1.033 WHIP. Plus, he could potentially come at a bargain price as he’s serving as his own agent.
There are a few other names out there to consider, but the clear message is Kelly’s departure isn’t devastating for Boston’s chances in 2019. They’ll simply have to act decisively and make sure to secure someone who can produce.