For all the Los Angeles Dodgers have accomplished during their stretch of six consecutive National League West titles and back-to-back pennants, the bullpen has remained a trouble spot. In their quest to improve the unit, Joe Kelly was signed to a three-year contract during the offseason.
Kelly was coming off a subpar 2018 campaign that he managed to salvage late and took that momentum into the postseason. Prior to signing the converted starter, the Dodgers’ last look at Kelly was when he collected 10 strikeouts over six scoreless innings across five appearances in the World Series.
But the 30-year-old has looked nothing of that dominant pitcher in his two appearances with the Dodgers thus far. Monday marked Kelly’s second time blowing a lead that resulted in the Dodgers suffering a loss.
Despite another rocky outing, Kelly remains encouraged by the feel of his pitches even if results aren’t matching, via SportsNet LA
“I felt way better today, command of all my pitches were a lot better. … Other than that, it’s obviously two really, really horse-crap outings results-wise. My body feels good. Other than that, if I did my job we’d be 5-0. It’s early, and the information I’m getting, the way the ball is coming out, it feels a lot better. … I’ve just got to fine-tune.”
As Kelly failed to protect the lead and struggled to get outs, boos began to rain down from the Dodger Stadium faithful. They were at their loudest as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed Kelly, who expressed an understanding of the fans’ frustrations:
“That’s nothing. I’ve played in a place where it was a lot worse with the boo birds. It’s fine, it’s all part of it. It’s part of being a fan. I’m not happy with myself. I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I was a fan either, but we have a great squad. Obviously we haven’t been throwing the best – myself and ourself as a unit down there in the bullpen – but it’s probably a little frustrating for somebody watching.”
Kelly has allowed a combined six runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in just three innings this season. His first pitch upon entering the sixth inning with a 2-0 lead on Monday was hit by Brandon Belt for a leadoff home run.
Kelly exited with two runners on, both of which scored, and further inflated his ERA.