D-backs’ Merrill Kelly ready to face ‘electric’ Philly crowd

Oct 17, 2023, 7:59 AM | Updated: 8:42 am

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly doesn’t have any strong recollection of his one career start in Philadelphia, but the veteran pitcher has a deep familiarity with the raucous Phillies crowd in a different way.

Kelly brought his brother to Citizens Bank Park for a World Series game last year as a birthday present.

“I’ve definitely experienced this crowd in the recent past, so I kind of know what we’re getting into,” Kelly told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Monday. “But either way it’s gonna be electric. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

Kelly said his brother keeps reminding him of a sentiment they shared last year when watching the game from the stands.

“I told him next year that I wanted to be here, so the fact that we have gotten this far and that we’re playing in this stadium and that he’s able to be here is pretty cool,” Kelly said. “I know he’s beside himself right now watching these next couple games.”

Kelly and his brother also lived in Bryn Mawr, a Philadelphia suburb, for about four and a half years growing up.

“This crowd brings it,” Kelly said. “They’re loud. They take pride in kind of the stigma of being those types of fans and they definitely live up to it.”

Kelly has three starts against the Phillies in his career. The right-handed pitcher has a 1-1 record with an ERA of 2.75 but hasn’t pitched in Philadelphia since 2019.

In his one start at Citizens Bank Park, Kelly was dominant, going 7.2 innings and allowing just three hits and no runs.

Kelly also pitched against the Phillies earlier this year at home, lasting six innings and giving up three earned runs in a no-decision. Kelly struck out seven and gave up four walks in a game in which the Phillies jumped to a 3-0 lead before the D-backs’ Christian Walker tied the game in the eighth with a three-run homer. The Phillies eventually won 4-3 in extra innings.

While Trea Turner is 9-for-21 in his career against Kelly with six RBIs and three walks, Bryce Harper is 1-for-5, Nick Castellanos is 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Kyle Schwarber is 1-for-7 against Kelly with four strikeouts.

“It’s a tough one,” Kelly said about the Phillies’ lineup. “It’s a deep one, too. From one to nine they got guys that can work at-bats, slug a little bit, obviously with the big names that everybody knows, but they’ve had a lot of guys step up this year, a lot of kind of not necessarily new guys, but a lot of guys that haven’t gotten everyday roles and they’re in and they’re taking advantage of it. They’re aggressive.”

Kelly went 6.1 innings and allowed only three hits and no runs against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLDS, the first and only postseason start of his career. But after the D-backs swept the Dodgers, Kelly hasn’t pitched since Oct. 7.

“I think at this point everyone likes the rest,” Kelly said. “It’s a little bit longer than I’d probably prefer, but the positive about being in the playoffs is that you’re looking forward to coming to the park every day. The energy kind of picks back up after grinding through the last dog days of September to get here.

“I’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping myself ready. If you can’t prepare and if you can’t get yourself up for an NLCS game in Philly, then I might have to check your pulse, but I think tomorrow the adrenaline will take over and it’ll just be kind of like riding a bike. Right back to business.”

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