‘Reverse export myth’ Kelly to become KBO’s first Cy Young Award pitcher

Merrill Kelly (35, USA-Arizona Diamondbacks), who was “reverse-exported” to the United States from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), has emerged as a frontrunner for the Cy Young Award, which recognizes the best pitcher of the year. Expectations are high for him to become the first pitcher from the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) to win the award.

Merrill Kelly throws a pitch in the first inning of a Major League Baseball (MLB) game against the Milwaukee Brewers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on April 20. /Reuters1

Kelly started a road game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 20, striking out seven and allowing just three hits and one walk in seven innings of a 9-1 victory. He lowered his ERA back into the double digits (2.90) from 3.04.안전놀이터

With the win, Kelly picked up his ninth win of the season (3-0) and is now tied for first in the National League (NL) with Marcus Stroman (32-Chicago Cubs) and Clayton Kershaw (35-LA Dodgers) in wins with 21. He also ranks among the league’s top pitchers in key categories, including fifth in ERA, sixth in innings pitched (90), seventh in strikeouts (96), second in batting average (0.194) and third in WHIP (hits and walks allowed per nine innings) (1.07). ESPN ranked Kelly first in the Cy Young Predictor (CYP). His 89.0 CYP points were the most in the NL, ahead of teammate Zack Galen (28-85.1). Galen is 8-2 with a 2.96 ERA.

Merrill Kelly during his time with SK in the KBO. /Jungheon Song, Sports Chosun

After bouncing around the minor leagues in the United States, Kelly spent four seasons in South Korea with SK (now SSG) from 2015 to 2018. He went 48-32 with a 3.86 ERA in the Korean Baseball Organization. The Diamondbacks, who had been following his progress, signed him in 2019. Despite the doubts about his ability to succeed, he went 13-14 with a 4.42 ERA in his first year in the big leagues. Last year, he was more steady, going 13-8 with a 3.37 ERA, and this year he’s shown even more improvement. His fastball sits in the low 90s, which is mediocre for a major leaguer, but he cooks hitters with a sophisticated arsenal of five pitches: changeup, cutter, curve, sinker, and slider. His command of the entire strike zone has improved, leading some to compare him to legendary pitcher Greg Maddux, 57, who was known as the “Wizard of the Zone.

Riding Kelly’s coattails, the Diamondbacks are in first place in the NL West (44-30, .595 winning percentage) and dreaming of “fall baseball. The Diamondbacks have missed the postseason in each of the last five seasons since 2017, when they advanced as a wild card.

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