Joe Kelly returns, as Dodgers expand 2020 reunion, also add Lance Lynn & his MLB-worst qualified ERA

In desperate need of pitching, both in the rotation and the bullpen, the Dodgers added a piece to each on Friday afternoon.

While I managed to sneak in a post about Joe Kelly last night, with some details on why he is a fit for this bullpen, I also made fun of Lance Lynn being sought after by so many teams in this morning’s post about Eduardo Rodriguez.


There is currently no qualified starter in baseball with a worse ERA or HR/FB% than Lynn.

And yet, I should probably point out the positives, such as Lynn has struggled badly in 2023 but is still better than the starter the Dodgers just traded away, due to his remaining strikeout ability.

I did desperately want there to be a recent run of success for Lynn to say something more positive, but really his past few outings have been rough. The 6.47 ERA has hung around throughout the season, with a peak of 7.51 back in May (if we ignore the first month of the season when it was 9.00 after his second start) and a low of 5.83 following a pretty good three-start stretch immediately following that peak in May. However, since May 31 Lynn’s ERA has ranged from 6.75 down to 6.03. So really, that’s what he is in 2023.

You can make the argument that he will eat innings, as he’s never thrown less than 89 pitches in his 21 starts this year, while also surpassing 100 13 times. Lynn’s hit 5 innings in 18 of his 21 starts, but that’s come with 10 of those including at least 4 earned runs being allowed. With the White Sox going absolutely nowhere, and in fact being worst American League team since June 29, they let Lynn go 4 2/3 innings or more in four of his past five starts. He allowed 5, 4, 6 and 7 earned runs during the stretch for a 6.67 ERA and 6.28 FIP, only saved by a one-hit, 11 strikeout outing against the Blue Jays where he lasted 7 innings. And that’s clearly what the Dodgers are counting on. Lynn has struck out 10 or more, with a high of 16 back on June 18, in four starts this season.

When he’s been good, with five pitches holding a Whiff% of 30.0% or better, it’s worked. Of course, there’s the issue of 12 home runs coming against his fastball and another nine off the cutter. That’s specifically been an issue against left-handed hitters, who will likely be stacked in lineups against Lynn. Here’s a look at his splits for 2023:

vs. RHH278.208.284.368.652.28723.0%9.7%3.89
vs. LHH257.338.401.6361.037.43530.6%7.2%6.96

Even if the Dodgers used a left-handed opener for Lynn, I would imagine this line would look pretty appetizing if you just dealt with it for an inning or two.

There’s plenty to say, but the key difference I can see right away is Lynn’s fastball. Using it 42.5% of the time to right-handed batters, it has a .140 BA/.151 xBA, .215 SLG/.281 xSLG and .195 wOBA/.224 xwOBA with a 41.4 Whiff%. For left-handed batters, the fastball is at 38.6% with a .388 BA./.329 xBA, .875 SLG/.719 xSLG and a .538 wOBA/.462 xwOBA with a 25.6 Whiff%.

Fixing that and/or finding the right matchups to use with it will be the challenge for the Dodgers going forward.


As for Kelly, I put all the basics out there last night. The Dodgers’ bullpen does not miss many bats. Kelly’s K% is immediately the best in the Dodgers bullpen with the team. Here’s the few paragraphs on him from yesterday.

Kelly has spent some time on the injured list in 2023, with a right groin strain costing him two weeks in April and right elbow inflammation taking him out for two weeks of July.
That being said, Kelly’s five pitch mix in 2023 has led to the aforementioned highest K% (32.0%) of his career, second lowest BB% of his career and second-best Whiff% at 30.2%. Moving away from his curve in favor of his slider and fastball behind his sinker to right-handed hitters has led to a 37.7 K% with a .219/.275/.328/.603 line and a 1.82 FIP. Left-handed batters still see plenty of curves, along with an even mix of sinkers, sliders and changes. They are striking out much less, at 25.4% with a 5.10 FIP and a .240/.356/.500/.856 line, but that work would seem to fall on Ferguson or Vesia anyway.
The 35-year-old Kelly still has a club option for 2024 at $9.5 million with a $1 million buyout. Making $9 million in 2023, Kelly has around $3 million remaining this season.

As inconsistent as he has been over his career, he’s certainly going to be one of the “floor raisers” the Dodgers keep talking about.


And as for the cost?

Nick Nastrini was the Dodgers’ No. 9 prospect in Baseball America’s rankings before the season and was No. 12 on This site had him No. 6 before the season and then he was No. 9 a few days ago. Needless to say, it seems like a heavy price to pay for two struggling pitchers, but the Dodgers are trading from a position of strength.

Jordan Leasure was not ranked, but does have a 39.7 K% and a 3.09 ERA/4.17 FIP in 35 innings for Double-A Tulsa in 2023, and looks like a potential relief option. And of course, Trayce Thompson now enters a third run with the White Sox after spending 2009 to 2015 with Chicago, and then part of 2018 as well. We will always have his 2022 bounceback year and the 3-homer, 8 RBI game to start 2023.


That’s three deals already for the Dodgers and still plenty of time to make some more moves, possibly for some players who do not rank at the bottom of their key statistical categories.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree.