Questions remain as the Los Angeles Dodgers are set to open the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium in just over one week. What capacity Rich Hill may be available in come October remains unclear, and in some regard that also applies to Joe Kelly.
After appearing against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 1, the right-hander did not pitch again until six days later. Following a loss, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed the extended absence was due to Kelly dealing with a lower body injury.
He considered the situation minor but expected to avoid using Kelly for another brief stretch. He’s appeared in four games since Sept. 11, including one set of back-to-back nights.
Although the 31-year-old recently said he’s improving, the Dodgers continue to proceed with caution. Kelly isn’t expected to pitch until Thursday, but Roberts asserted remains on the right track and downplayed any concern, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“He’s doing better than he was a couple of days ago. He’s not going to be available toady or tomorrow. So then now you’re looking at Thursday. We’ll revisit Thursday when it gets here. The expectations is he’ll be ready to go once the bell rings and before that, too.”
Although the Dodgers may need to go another game without Kelly, that he potentially will appear in relief in the series finale against the San Diego Padres is an encouraging sign. Roberts had previously indicated he anticipated Kelly not pitching until the playoffs started.
“He still feels like he can go out there and pitch, but just doesn’t feel great with his body,” Roberts said. “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, the Dodgers have not provided any details on Kelly’s injury. “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.”
Kelly’s availability and potential to succeed in the postseason is magnified tenfold amid Kenley Jansen’s ongoing struggles. While the Dodgers remain committed to Jansen as closer, Roberts allowed for a potential change in course in the playoffs.