Newspaper that inspires change. Breaking stories that shake the world. Be informed, Don't Settle for Fake News.

feat shape 1
feat shape 2
feat shape 3

Late career chance in Arizona lands Merrill Kelly in key NLCS spot

Merrill Kelly, who debuted in the MLB at 30, has become an indispensable player for the Arizona Diamondbacks, leading them to the NLCS.

Merrill Kelly, the right-handed pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks, celebrated his 35th birthday this week in a place he had never been before. Kelly's journey in baseball has been unconventional, and finding himself in new situations has become somewhat of a norm for him.

Kelly didn't make his major league debut until he turned 30 in April 2019. Prior to that, his career had hit a roadblock while he was in the Tampa Bay organization, and he spent four seasons playing for the SK Wyverns (now the SSG Landers) in the Korean Baseball League. It was during his time in Korea that Kelly's career was revitalized, as he pitched over 726 innings and gained valuable experience. This eventually led to an opportunity with the Diamondbacks, who were in the midst of a rebuilding phase in 2019.

Since joining the Diamondbacks, Kelly has become an integral part of the team. He has a record of 48-43 over four seasons, including a 25-16 record in the last two years. His earned run average (ERA) stands at 3.80, and he has made 90 starts in the past three seasons.

Kelly, along with fellow pitcher Zac Gallen, has been a key contributor to the Diamondbacks' success in the postseason. In the sweep of the Dodgers, Kelly threw 6.1 scoreless innings, showcasing his pitching prowess.

One of the highlights of Kelly's career was being selected to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Although he struggled in the tournament, allowing four earned runs in 4.1 innings and getting the loss in the final against Japan, he cherished the experience of playing alongside talented players such as Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, and J.T. Realmuto. However, facing his former teammates in the NLCS doesn't give him any advantage in terms of scouting them.

Kelly has faced Turner numerous times during their days in the NL West, and Turner has had success against him, going 9-for-21 in their matchups. Despite this, Turner has nothing but praise for Kelly, describing him as poised, calm, and a competitor.

While Kelly may not have much postseason experience in the United States, he draws on his past experiences in Korean baseball. He played a crucial role in helping the SK Wyverns win the Korean Series in 2018, pitching seven innings for the win in Game 3 and starting Game 6, which the Wyverns won in 13 innings.

Kelly believes that his experiences in Korean baseball, with its lively and enthusiastic in-stadium atmosphere, will prepare him for the NLCS. He recalls the energy of the fans in Seoul, with thousands of people singing in unison for each hitter, and the electric atmosphere during the WBC game against Venezuela in Miami. He hopes that the atmosphere in Philadelphia won't surpass the intensity of those moments.

As Kelly takes the mound for Game 2 of the NLCS, he reflects on his journey in baseball and the opportunities that have come his way. From his late start in the big leagues to his success in Korea and now with the Diamondbacks, Kelly has defied expectations and proven his worth. He is ready to embrace the challenge and make the most of his chance in the NLCS.

Share With Others

Comments on Late career chance in Arizona lands Merrill Kelly in key NLCS spot