This is a reverse export myth… KBO Players Ranked Higher Than Scherzer-Kershaw, Finished One Year With Fireworks

No stranger to the KBO, Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona), who played for SK from 2015 to 2018, has had a career that has been nothing short of spectacular. He came to the KBO without any major league experience, but after improving in the KBO, he returned to the major leagues and his career has continued to grow. This is a very rare case.

After failing to break through the Tampa Bay farm system’s thick pitching depth, Kelly signed with SK in 2015 and spent four years there, gaining both experience and experience as a starter. In 2019, at the age of 31, he signed a 2+2 year deal with Arizona to make a belated major league debut. The first two years were guaranteed for $5.5 million, which isn’t much. The local media saw him as a fifth starter. However, Kelly’s best days were ahead of him.

In 2019, Kelly broke out with a solid 13-14 record and 4.42 ERA in 183⅓ innings pitched. In 2020, a shortened season due to COVID-19, he struggled with injuries and made just five appearances, but performed well enough for the team to exercise the option. In 2021, he struggled a bit, going 7-11 with a 4.44 ERA in 27 games, but bounced back in 2022 with a 13-8 record and 3.37 ERA in 33 games and 200⅓ innings pitched.레모나토토 도메인

Kelly’s success earned him a two-year, $18 million contract covering 2023 and 2024. This year was his breakout season. He pitched 177⅔ innings in 30 games, going 12-8 with a 3.29 ERA. He solidified his spot as the No. 2 starter behind Zach Gallon. He proved that his 2022 performance wasn’t just a fluke, but that he was just entering his prime. He also performed well in the postseason, leading the team’s starting rotation. Now, it’s hard to discuss the Arizona starting rotation without Kelly.

He’s gotten his due. Although he didn’t receive any points in the Cy Young Award voting, he’s now a solid starter in the National League West. The year is ending on a high note. He was named one of the 25 best starting pitchers of the year by Bleacher Report on Tuesday. The publication ranked Kelly 18th overall. Kelly has never been ranked this high in his major league career.

Bleacher Report called him “one of baseball’s most underrated pitchers. He doesn’t have a big name or a big salary, but he performs well every time. ‘In his breakout season in 2022, Kelly went 13-8 with a 3.37 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 177 strikeouts in 200⅓ innings,’ the publication said. The 35-year-old proved his true worth this year with even more statistical improvement, capping off 2023 with a gem of a performance in Game 2 of the World Series.

Behind Kelly are a number of outstanding starting pitchers. Reigning Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw was ranked 25th on the list, while Max Scherzer, Shane McClanahan, and Sandy Alcantara are among the league’s top starters. Just ahead of him at No. 17 was Justin Verlander (Houston). Spencer Strider (Atlanta), this year’s National League Cy Young Award candidate, wasn’t far behind Kelly at No. 16.

While this may be just one media outlet’s assessment, it’s not necessarily true based on Kelly’s performance this season. According to FanGraphs, a specialized statistical site, Kelly has a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 3.2 this year. That ranks 24th among all pitchers in the major leagues, making him a worthy candidate for the top 25. Considering that Verlander was at 3.3 and Corbin Burns (Milwaukee) was at 3.4, Kelly’s performance this year is impressive. Add to that the fact that he pitched heroically in the postseason. Kelly’s best years are ahead of him.

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