Arizona, which lost Game 1 of the World Series against Texas in 7 innings and 1 run ,
recorded its first win in the Korea-U.S. series with a balance of wins
and losses. Developed breaking ball and game management skills in Korea, and gained experience in big games in KBO PS.
When Merrill Kelly (35, Arizona) signed a contract with Korean professional baseball team SK (now SSG) for a total of $350,000 (approximately 475 million won) in 2015, could he have imagined that his baseball life would change like this?
Kelly started the second game of the Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series (WS) held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas on the 29th and held the Texas lineup to 3 hits, no walks, 9 strikeouts, and 1 run in 7 innings, becoming the winning pitcher. It’s done. Arizona, who had lost 5-6 in the 11th inning of overtime in the first game the previous day, won 9-1 on this day and balanced the series with 1 win and 1 loss.
Kelly also served as a starting pitcher in Game 3 of the 2018 Korean Series (KS) and became the winning pitcher by allowing 2 runs (non-earned runs) in 7 innings. Kelly is the first to become a winning pitcher in both KS and WS. SK won the KS championship trophy in 2018 with 4 wins and 2 losses. If Arizona wins this WS, Kelly can become the first player in history to win professional baseball in both countries.
Most foreign players who play in Korean professional baseball choose to go to Korea due to reasons such as decline in skills while playing in MLB. However, Kelly, who was selected 251st overall in the 2010 MLB rookie draft, had never stepped foot on the big league stage before moving to Korea. Because his velocity was mediocre and his pitch type was monotonous, he bounced around minor league teams and received an annual salary of less than $100,000 (about 135 million won). He is 27 years old, which is why he decided to go to Korea at a relatively young age.
In Korea, he was born again. The fastball, which averaged in the mid-140 km/h range, became faster to the upper 140 km/h range. He also learned various breaking balls, including curves, changeups, and cut fastballs. He also developed his game management skills by dealing with persistent Korean hitters who did not swing the bat to his considerable pitches. Kelly recorded 48 wins, 32 losses, and an average ERA of 3.86 over his four-year career at SK.
And in 2019, the year after winning the Korean Series, he moved to his hometown team Arizona under the condition of receiving up to $14.5 million (about 20 billion won) over four years. It was the first case of a foreign player who had never played in the big leagues being exported to MLB through the KBO League. Kelly has posted 13 wins (14 losses) since his first year in MLB, and was also selected for the U.S. national team at this year’s World Baseball Classic (WBC).굿모닝토토 도메인
The problem was that Arizona had never advanced to the postseason from 2017 to last year. Because of this, Kelly also had to be criticized for “lack of ‘big game’ experience.” In response to this, Kelly responded, “In Korea, about 30,000 spectators fill the stadium every postseason, and half of the spectators sing different cheering songs every time a batter steps to the plate.” This meant that he had accumulated enough experience in big games in Korea. And until today, he has recorded 3 wins, 1 loss, and an average ERA of 2.25 in the postseason, proving the ‘effect of studying in Korea.’