Merrill Kelly continues to make a case for D-backs’ starting rotation
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Arizona Diamondbacks’ starting pitcher Merrill Kelly continued to improve and solidify a starting rotation spot for himself with his second start of spring training at Salt River Fields on Saturday.
Kelly allowed just three hits, one walk, and two earned runs in four innings of work in a 10-5 split-squad win against the San Diego Padres.
He was able to get ahead of batters consistently throughout his outing and keep runners off the base path. A triple in the third inning to Abraham Almonte – that didn’t yield a run – and a two-run home run by first basemen Ty France in the fourth inning were the only blemishes on his day.
“I was happy with location,” he said after the game. “I was happy with pitches. I was able to throw all of them for strikes, which I was happy with.”
The 31-year-old hurler only fell behind in the count to three batters during his start, which he attributed to focusing on his command.
“One of my main goals today was just going and trying to get strike one,” he said. “I think I did a pretty good job of that.”
Kelly, who went 13-14 with a 4.42 ERA last season as a starter for the D-backs, led MLB rookies in strikeouts and was second in innings pitched. Yet with the offseason moves, he is one of several pitchers competing to be a part of the starting rotation.
“I think when you put together a baseball game and you’re talking through the starting pitching, you’re hoping to get out of your outing what Merrill Kelly gave us,” said D-backs manager Torey Lovullo after the game.
“He was on the attack. I could feel it in the dugout. He was doing a good job with his fastball,” he added.
In his first start of Cactus League play, Kelly pitched four innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Jake Lamb went 3-3 with a home run, double, four RBIs, and a walk.
He has only played in 134 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and is battling for a spot in the starting lineup.
“Jake Lamb had a great day offensively,” said Lovullo. “It’s something that I think he’s working very hard for, so I was glad to see that.”