Diamondbacks Cy Young Award: Merrill Kelly
I don’t think anyone truly expected when this season began that Merrill Kelly would be our steadiest, most reliable, and de facto “Ace” for the team this year. Yet, that’s exactly what happened. Our starting rotation struggled mightily throughout this year due to bad performances and loads of injuries. Zac Gallen, the expected player to take another huge leap this year, landed on the IL three separate times and struggled to maintain consistent results. Madison Bumgarner struggled early, then excelled, then got hurt, and did great upon his return. However, in the final weeks of the season, Madbum struggled.
Merrill made the most starts of any pitcher on the roster with 27. In fact, he hadn’t missed a single start until he missed three to four weeks in August due to contracting Covid. Despite that, he returned and continued to pitch consistently. He’s a lock for his option to be picked up for next year. The 32-year old valley native led the team in Wins, Losses, innings, games started, FIP, batters faced, walks per 9 innings, Pitching War, and home runs allowed per 9 innings. He finished second in strikeouts and strikeout to walk ratio.
Overall, his stats across his 27 starts and 158 innings were 7-11, 4.44 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 163 hits allowed, 21 home runs allowed, 41 walks, 130 K’s, 96 ERA+, 1.29 WHIP, 9.3 hits allowed per 9 innings, 2.3 walks per 9 innings, and 7.4 K’s per 9 innings. That’s rather good for what many expected to be a back-end starter. His role is still that of a middle-rotation starter, but he certainly had a career year in many ways in 2021.