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*2014 VEB Community Projections: Joe Kelly

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Give or take about a strikeout every nine innings and a couple of percentage points of ground balls, and Joe Kelly is basically Jake Westbrook. They are groundball pitchers (Kelly's 51.4% to Westbrook's 58.7%), strikeout fewer than 6 batters per nine innings, walk around 3 batters per nine innings, and are really exceptional back-of-the-rotation pitchers who will get you xFIPs in the 4.00 range.

The problem for Joe is that, unfortunately for him, he is probably not the best option at any of his possible roles given full health of his teammates. In the rotation, the Cardinals have Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, and Jaime Garcia, all of whom have considerably higher upside than Joe. In the bullpen, Trevor Rosenthal and Jason Motte are better strikeout guys from the right side, and Seth Maness is a better groundout guy from the right side, leaving Joe Kelly as the long man out of the bullpen.

Fortunately for Joe (and the Cardinals), a full stable of pitchers rarely ever stays fully healthy for an entire season. Jaime Garcia is far, far from a guarantee and Joe Kelly would be the first to step in there. Having Kelly's versatility and above-replacement talent level as a backup in the rotation and the bullpen is a luxury that very few teams can afford. Matheny famously referred to Joe Kelly as a "Ferrari sitting in a garage," and while slightly hyperbolic, the general sentiment holds true. Replacing a 3 WAR pitcher with a guy you're relatively certain will be worth 1.5 WAR is far preferable to replacing him with a guy you hope will be worth replacement level.

Also he does this

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via mlb.mlb.com


Stats via Fangraphs

Season

Team

Age

W

L

G

GS

IP

K/9

BB/9

BABIP

ERA

2009

Cardinals (A-)

21

2

3

16

2

30.1

8.9

3.26

0.351

4.75

2010

Cardinals (A)

22

6

8

26

18

103.1

8.01

3.92

0.333

4.62

2011

Cardinals (A+)

23

5

2

12

11

72.2

7.68

4.21

0.275

2.6

2011

Cardinals (AA)

23

6

4

11

11

59.1

7.74

3.79

0.358

5.01

2012

Cardinals (AAA)

24

2

5

12

12

72.1

5.6

2.61

0.322

2.86

2012

Cardinals

24

5

7

24

16

107

6.31

3.03

0.306

3.53

2013

Cardinals

25

10

5

37

15

124

5.73

3.19

0.289

2.69

Total

- - -


15

12

61

31

231

6

3.12

0.297

3.08