A minor league prospect became a big league star after improving his game across the Pacific. Merrill Kelly, 35, who made the jump to Major League Baseball (MLB) after a successful stint in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), pitched dazzlingly on the biggest stage.
Kelly threw 89 pitches in Game 2 of the World Series (WS) against Texas at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Monday (Sept. 29), allowing one run on three hits and one walk while striking out nine in seven innings. Kelly overwhelmed a Texas offense that had come from behind to win Game 1 the night before. Arizona cruised to a 9-1 victory behind Kelly, who earned the win.
In the process, Kelly created a memory that will last a lifetime in his first WS start. This year, Kelly is experiencing the postseason for the first time and has pitched in four games, including the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Championship Series in Philadelphia, and the World Series, where he won three games. Most importantly, he looked like a big-game pitcher in the all-important WS, going seven innings – more than in the previous three games.
In addition to Kelly, Arizona got five hits from Tommy Pham, four from Corbin Carroll, three from Luerdes Gurriel Jr. and two from Alec Thomas. After suffering a shocking loss in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 1 on a tying home run and a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning of extra innings, they bounced back.
Winning the pitching matchup proved to be the difference. Kelly got the upper hand on Texas starter Jordan Montgomery and Arizona stayed in it until the end. Montgomery gave up four runs in six innings.
It’s interesting to note Kelly’s history. After joining Tampa Bay in 2010, Kelly didn’t reach the big leagues until 2014. He was a starter in Triple-A, but couldn’t break through the big league wall, and in 2015, he landed in South Korea. He signed with SK and rotated as a starter in the KBO. In four years in South Korea through 2018, he went 48-32 with a 3.86 ERA in 119 games and 729.2 innings pitched.
After watching him pitch in South Korea, Arizona made plans to acquire him. Prior to the 2019 season, Kelly signed a 2+2 year deal with Arizona, earning $2 million in 2019 and $3 million in 2020. After the 2020 season, Arizona exercised the second-year option, earning him $4.25 million in 2021 and $5.25 million in 2022.
In other words, he proved to be competitive in the MLB and went on to have a successful career as a starting pitcher. After the 2022 season, Arizona signed Kelly to a two-year extension, totaling $18 million through 2022. With a two-year, $18 million deal through 2024, Kelly will make more money than he has in the past four years. 안전놀이터
Along with the increased salary, Kelly is also looking to win a World Series, an honor that money can’t buy.