Diamondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly landed on the injured list with a nerve impingement in his pitching shoulder Monday. Now, according to general manager Mike Hazen, Kelly probably won’t return this season after undergoing surgery to address a blood clot, per reports from Zach Buchanan of The Athletic and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
The loss of Kelly seems like bad news on multiple fronts for the Diamondbacks. As owners of a 13-18 record, the D-backs could have sold a healthy Kelly off before the Aug. 31 trade deadline, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained shortly before he went on the IL. On the other hand, if Arizona wanted to continue pushing for a playoff spot, Kelly could have helped its cause. The 31-year-old has been one of its top starters this season, having recorded a 2.59 ERA/3.95 FIP with 8.33 K/9, 1.44 BB/9 and a 45.6 percent groundball rate in five appearances and 31 1/3 innings.
Aside from Kelly and Zac Gallen, the Diamondbacks’ rotation has gotten little production from anyone who has received multiple starts this year. Robbie Ray, Madison Bumgarner and Luke Weaver have all endured disastrous seasons, while Alex Young has provided middle-of-the-road numbers over three starts. But Bumgarner, who has been on the IL since Aug. 9 with a mid-back strain, figures to return soon. He should slot in along with Gallen, Ray, Weaver and either Young or Taylor Clarke when he does come back.
Kelly, meanwhile, will remain under Diamondbacks control in 2021 if they want to keep him. They’ll have to decide on a $4.25MM option or a $500K buyout in the offseason.