When SK (now SSG) signed an unknown player named Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona) in 2015, no one expected him to become one of the top starting pitchers in Major League Baseball.
He hadn’t played a single game in the majors, and he was a pitcher who hadn’t received much attention in the KBO. He was considered to have basic potential and was still young enough to have a lot of upside. However, over the course of four seasons in the KBO, Kelly gradually developed into a pitcher worthy of the major leagues.
After four years and 119 games in the KBO, Kelly compiled a 48-32 record with a 3.86 ERA, which put him on the radar of Arizona, which was looking for a low-cost, high-efficiency fifth starter, and signed him to a 2+2 year deal ahead of the 2019 season, giving him a belated major league debut.안전놀이터
The odd thing is that Kelly’s numbers have continued to improve in the majors. He’s in his mid-30s, which is when you’d expect him to break down, but instead, he’s getting better with age, pitching more smoothly. He hasn’t lost any strength. He doesn’t get sick as often. It’s a really unusual case.
Kelly posted a 4.42 ERA in 32 games in 2019. Many considered this a success considering the money he was being paid. He followed that up with a 4.44 ERA in 2021 and a 3.37 ERA in 2022, and this year he’s 7-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 70⅔ innings over his first 12 games. It’s great to see a guy in his 30s making his major league debut and seeing his metrics get better every year. This year, Kelly’s 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings is the best of his career.
He’s often been underrated because he’s been a little-known pitcher, but he’s been thrust into the national spotlight this year as he’s started to lead the National League in wins. He was ranked No. 20 in Major League Baseball’s starting pitching rankings by Major League Baseball Network panelist Dan Plesak on Sunday.
Plesak updates the rankings periodically and explains why players rise and fall in his programmes on Major League Baseball Network. Since it’s an ever-changing list, it’s inevitable that recent performance will have a big impact on the rankings, aside from previous experience and name recognition. In that regard, Kelly’s entry into the top 20 seems like a no-brainer.
At No. 19 is Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers), who leads the National League in wins, and at No. 22, just below Kelly, is three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (New York Mets).
While Scherzer has had a more illustrious career than Kelly, it’s hard to argue that he’s better than Kelly based on his performance this season. Schuerzer is 5-2 with a 3.21 ERA in nine games this season. He didn’t start the season at 100 per cent fitness and was suspended midway through the season for a foreign substance controversy, so he’s played fewer games.
The players above Kelly are, for good reason, the best starting pitchers in the majors this season. Shane McClanahan (Tampa Bay), Frazier Valdez (Houston), Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees), Sonny Gray (Minnesota), and Nathan Eovaldi (Texas) are all at the top of their game this season.
Toronto ace Kevin Gausman was eighth, Arizona ace Zack Greinke was 11th, and two-hitting Shohei Ohtani was 12th. Ohtani started the season ranked higher, but his recent struggles have pushed him outside the top 10.