4 trade targets that could replace Max Scherzer

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Merrill Kelly could take his breakout from the desert to the big city.

It’s not often you hear of a 33-year-old athlete having a breakout season, but that’s exactly what Merrill Kelly is doing in Arizona.

Kelly has made eight starts and pitched 44 innings. He’s given up 41 hits, 16 earned runs, 15 walks, and struck out 40. His ERA is 3.27, his FIP is 2.96, his WHIP is 1.27, and his ERA+ is 123. He’s only allowed one homer, good for an excellent HR/9 of 0.4 and a HR/FB of 4.8%. He’s another guy that has good command of his pitches, consistently throwing strikes with all of them. 

Kelly does a good job of mixing his five pitches. The big change he made that has led to his success was using his cutter and changeup more, and dropping the use of his sinker and curveball. He’s good at getting chases (87th percentile) and he limits hard contact well (64th percentile in average exit velocity, 63rd percentile in hard hit rate). He’s reduced the amount of hard contact he’s given up by 4%. He also gets good spin on his fastball, which is in the 72nd percentile.

The late-bloomer isn’t a free agent until 2025 and he still has three minor-league options remaining. With the Diamondbacks bringing up the rear of the NL West, they could look to move him, Zach Davies, or (less likely) Zac Gallen. Kelly’s control and options are attractive, even as he ages into his mid-30’s.