With 48 strikeouts in just 32.1 innings (13.4 K/9), Shawn Kelley has become a strikeout king.
Kelley, 29, was acquired by the Yankees before the 2013 season for minor league outfielder Abraham Almonte. The trade, this far, has worked out tremendously. Despite leading the bullpen in walks, he also leads the Yankees’ bullpen in strikeouts and is second in batting average against (.186).
You take the bad with the good…and good, right?
Shawn Kelley is a two-pitch pitcher. He features a fastball around 92 mph and a sharp-breaking slider around 81 mph with an extremely rare changeup. How often does Kelley use his pitches? See for yourself:
Shawn Kelley clearly depends on his slider to put away the opposing batters. This season, 63% of his strikeouts have come on the slider. For his career, he gets the final strike on the slider 57% of the time. Is this a good formula for domination? So far it has been, but can it get better?
The Yankees have another two-pitch pitcher that has made it work.
Is there a difference between the ways that David Robertson and Shawn Kelley work? See for yourself:
This season, David Robertson has found a balance, getting strike three 50% of the time with his fastball and 50% of the time with his curveball.
Featuring a fastball that averages around 92 mph and a big curve that averages just over 81 mph, David Robertson has figured out a combination that makes him one of the best relief pitchers in baseball.
Shawn Kelley’s career BB/9 is lower than Robertson’s (2.9 vs. 4.1) but his career HR/9 is double (1.3 vs. 0.6) that of Robertson’s.
Clearly, the Yankees found a valuable commodity to pair with David Robertson in the bullpen. With the unfortunately inevitable retirement of Mariano Rivera, David Robertson will be a strong candidate to be the heir to the greatest closer of all-time. If that should happen, could Kelley be the heir to Robertson?
If K-ing Kelley keeps it going, I don’t see why not.
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