Just a year ago, she bought tickets and watched the game from the stands, and now she’s on the mound.
This is the story of Merrill Kelly, 35, a starting pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kelly is the epitome of the “reverse export myth,” a player who made it to the major leagues after playing in the KBO.
After making his major league debut in Arizona in 2019, going 13-14 with a 4.42 ERA in 183 1/3 innings, Kelly went 3-2 with a 2.59 ERA in 31 1/3 innings in the shortened 2020 season, and 7-11 with a 4.44 ERA in 158 1/3 innings in 2021. After posting a 44 ERA, Kelly surpassed 200 innings last year (200⅓ innings), going 13-8 with a 3.37 ERA, and again this year, going 12-8 with a 3.29 ERA in 177⅔ innings, helping Arizona clinch a wild-card spot.
Kelly’s career major league record is 48-43 with a 3.80 ERA in 127 games and 750⅔ innings pitched, matching his four years in the KBO. Kelly played for the SK Wyverns from 2015-2018, going 48-32 with a 3.86 ERA in 119 games and 729⅔ innings pitched.
Kelly’s hot streak has continued in the postseason. On Aug. 8, Kelly silenced the Dodger faithful in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium with 6 1/3 innings of three-hit ball, two walks and five strikeouts. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw was a contrast, giving up six runs in ⅓ of an inning.
Arizona responded with an 11-2 blowout victory behind Kelly’s dominant pitching, and went on to win three straight games in a blowout to advance to the National League Championship Series. Now, Arizona will face the Philadelphia Phillies in the League Championship Series. The Phillies were the runners-up in last year’s World Series.
Games 1 and 2 of the League Championship Series will be played at Philadelphia’s home stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Kelly is scheduled to start Game 2.
Philadelphia is known for its loud home fans. Kelly knows this well. He witnessed it firsthand in Game 3 of last year’s World Series. Why would an Arizona player go to a World Series game?
According to MLB.com, “You don’t have to tell her how loud it is at Citizens Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s seen firsthand what it’s like to be there when it’s loudest.” MLB.com introduced Kelly’s story.
Merrill Kelly led Arizona to the postseason with 12 wins this year.
Merrill Kelly has 48 career wins in the major leagues.
Here’s the story. Kelly was at Citizens Bank Park, the site of Game 3 of last year’s World Series, to celebrate the birthday of her older brother, Reed Kelly. Reed grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia before moving to the Chicago area. Reed’s favorite team was the Philadelphia Phillies. Kelly was so dedicated that he went online and bought the tickets himself.먹튀검증
Just a year ago, he was watching from the stands, and now he’s on the mound. “The fact that we’re going to Philadelphia for the league championship series is pretty cool,” Kelly said. It’s going to be interesting to see what that energy feels like in person.”
“Arizona knows that Philadelphia is like an electric atmosphere,” he told MLB.com. It’s going to be really loud, and the Phillies fans are going to get on their opponents’ nerves, just like they’ve done to their postseason opponents in the past.” The data backs that up. The Phillies are 26-11 in postseason games at Citizens Bank Park for a .703 winning percentage.
“It’s going to be pretty loud,” said right-hander Paul Seewald, who tied a career-high with 34 saves this year after being traded to Arizona from the Seattle Mariners. “The Philadelphia fans are loud, and they’re confident after last season, and the team is winning now,” he said, adding that he has a mental picture in his head of how loud it will be at Citizens Bank Park.
That can be a lot of pressure for some. Seawald has the simplest solution. “The important thing is to get a lead,” he said. “At Dodger Stadium, there were 60,000 people waving blue towels, but after the first inning, there was hardly any waving. It makes it a much easier environment to pitch in at Dodger Stadium.” Arizona took Games 1 and 2 of the division series at Dodger Stadium, the home of the Dodgers, and won both. In the end, it comes down to baseball.