Despite being hampered by an undisclosed lower body injury that limited him to only seven appearances in September, Joe Kelly nevertheless earned a spot on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2019 National League Division Series roster.
The right-hander, after a rough start to his Dodgers tenure, shook off his struggles in June and emerged as a key weapon out of the bullpen for much of the second half. He posted a solid 3.48 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while registering an impressive 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings over his final 24 appearances of the regular season.
Hoping to replicate the success he enjoyed during the Boston Red Sox’s World Series run last year, Kelly has enjoyed mixed results in two postseason outings thus far.
He explained his approach to the month of October and believes not having a set routine has contributed to pitching well during the postseason, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I think the biggest thing is to not be prepared. I think if you prepare too much, I think it overwhelms guys. I’m the kind of guy who works out on different days, lifts on different days, plays video games once in a while, does my arm care on different days. So I don’t really have a set routine, and I know that sounds kind of funny. When they call my name, I pick up the ball and throw. I don’t really have any routine before that. I think that helps in October when the pressure gets the biggest and the crowds are bigger, situations are bigger. Some guys, if you have a pretty strict routine, if you’re not able to get all that done with different game times and different travel schedules, it could throw some guys off. For me, I play the whole season that way so it’s easier for me to manage, I guess.”
Kelly made his 2019 postseason debut in Game 1 of the NLDS, recording the final three outs to solidify a Dodgers’ 6-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.
He allowed a leadoff double to Trea Turner but bounced back by retiring the next three hitters, highlighted by back-to-back strikeouts of Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto.
Then in Game 3, Kelly endured one of his worst outings in quite some time. He did not record a single out, seeing all four batters faced reach base against him.
The 31-year-old walked three batters and allowed one hit before being removed in favor of Julio Urias. He was ultimately charged with two of the Nationals’ 4 runs, although the Dodgers still managed to secure a 10-4 victory.