Dodgers Injury Update: Joe Kelly’s Expected Appearance Pushed Back To Regular-Season Finale

In effort to solidify the backend of their bullpen and bridge to Kenley Jansen, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Joe Kelly one after watching him help pitch the Boston Red Sox to a World Series.

Kelly’s three-year contract represented a homecoming, but unfortunately it got off to a bumpy start. The veteran hardly resembled the pitcher the Dodgers saw in the Fall Classic, and it led to an adjustment in expectations and role.

Kelly changed his approach and continued working on mechanics, and the combination led to improved results. But he’s now fallen victim to an unspecified injury that’s limited his availability to pitch during September.

The 31-year-old was expected to pitch Wednesday, but that now is getting pushed back to the final day of the regular season, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

Joe Kelly won’t pitch Thursday. Now scheduled for a bullpen on Friday. Obviously, the club is concerned about an injury it won’t disclose. Roberts insists Kelly could pitch now if the playoffs had started.

— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 26, 2019

Roberts said Kelly is likely to pitch only Sunday. That gives him only one outing to prove he’s healthy enough for the postseason.

— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 26, 2019

After pitching against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 1, Kelly did not appear in another game until six days later. It was at that point Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed the extended absence was due to Kelly dealing with a lower body injury.

Roberts considered the situation minor but expected to avoid using Kelly for another brief stretch. He has appeared in four games since Sept. 11, including one set of back-to-back.

While Roberts indicated Kelly was potentially going to get into a game against the Padres, he previously indicated it was unlikely the right-hander would be inserted into a game before playoffs started.

“He still feels like he can go out there and pitch, but just doesn’t feel great with his body,” Roberts recently 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.”