The Los Angeles Dodgers fortified their bullpen with the signing of former Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly, whose three-year contract includes incentives for games finished and an option for a fourth year.
The Anaheim native came away impressed after a three-hour meeting with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. That, and his desire to pitch closer to home played key roles in his decision to defect from the 2018 World Series champions.
When discussing his signing with the Dodgers, Kelly revealed that he’s open to pitching in any role with his new team but added that he’s most comfortable in high-leverage situations, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“When I moved to the bullpen, there was no role for me so I just went out there and pitched,” Kelly said. “And that was when I performed my best. During the playoffs, I think, that’s huge. It can be the first inning or the third inning. And that’s something me and the Dodgers spoke about. I’m not dedicated to any role. I think if you wanted to name a role, I think it’s me being able to pitch whenever the big outs are. And that’s when I perform the best and that’s when I feel the most comfortable.”
Kelly additionally revealed that the Dodgers were the only team to extend him a three-year pact. The 30-year-old went 4-2 with two saves, a 4.39 ERA, 3.57 FIP and 1.36 WHIP over 73 appearances during the regular season.
Kelly tweaked his mechanics late in the year and it proved beneficial, as he allowed just two runs (one earned) in 11.1 innings pitched over nine postseason games. That includes his performance in the World Series, where the right-hander tossed six shutout innings against the Dodgers.
Kelly additionally held opponents to a .186/.205/.186 batting line during that stretch and struck out 13 batters without issuing a walk.