The Los Angeles Dodgers addressed their bullpen last winter by signing Joe Kelly to a three-year, $25 million contract. He was just removed from a dominant run that helped propel the Boston Red Sox to a World Series win, but Kelly’s time in L.A. got off to a bumpy start.
Though the Dodgers envisioned utilizing Kelly in multiple roles, specifically in high-leverage situations, Kelly’s struggles required a shift in strategy. The veteran right-hander continued to work on his mechanics and pitch mix.
The combination led to Kelly turning his season around in June, but he’s recently become limited by an unspecified lower-body injury. Kelly went six days between appearances earlier this month and hasn’t been quite as effective in ensuing games.
That’s despite the 31-year-old recently asserting he was trending in the right direction with his recovery.
With the Dodgers already having clinched the National League West and closing in on the top record in the league, it’s possible Kelly will not pitch until the playoffs begin. “I wouldn’t say it’s gone,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Kelly’s injury.
“He still feels like he can go out there and pitch, but just doesn’t feel great with his body. We’re going to continue to stay away from him. I think the main thing is for him to be ready for Game 1 of the postseason. Obviously with his history and track record, I can trust that.”
Other than to rule out pulled muscle or injury of that nature, Roberts remained evasive when discussing the details of Kelly’s ailment. “I think it’s just overall body. I really do,” Roberts said.
“There’s nothing really specific, the body just doesn’t feel that he can continue to repeat his delivery. If he wanted to go out there and pitch, he could pitch. The main thing is he’s got to feel confident and healthy, and right now he’s just not there.”
Roberts conceded if Kelly does not make a recovery in time for postseason play, it could impact his availability for back-to-back scenarios. That could further complicate matters for a bullpen that’s already had to navigate Kenley Jansen’s inconsistency.
Like Kelly, there’s been recent improvement with Jansen. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedamn, Roberts and Jansen alike have all voiced confidence the closer will recapture his form come October.