While the Los Angeles Dodgers are expecting to enter the postseason with a generally healthy roster, two notable exceptions come to mind. One being Alex Verdugo, who has already been ruled out for the National League Division Series due to back trouble that resurfaced during a Minor League rehab assignment at the start of September.
On the pitching front, Joe Kelly has additionally battled through an unspecified injury of his own. Having logged just six overall appearances this month, the right-hander has been out of action altogether since recording one out in a Sept. 18 outing against the Tampa Bay Rays.
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 a lower body injury.
While Kelly wouldn’t specify what exactly has been troubling him this month, he conceded to feeling fatigued and being limited to some degree when pitching, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“Not really, I guess,” Kelly said. “Just body’s not where I want it to be.” Kelly said he is “a little tired” and is hampered “on certain movements that are related to pitching.”
Kelly’s comments certainly come off as a little alarming, but the Dodgers are hoping that a plentiful amount of rest will benefit him come the postseason. His presence in the backend of the bullpen will be vital to a team looking to snap a World Series championship drought that has now reached 31 years.
Kelly’s availability and potential to succeed in the playoffs is further magnified by Kenley Jansen’s ongoing struggles this season. Roberts has not ruled out removing him from closer should his slump carry over into October.
After a rough start to his Dodgers tenure, Kelly managed to turn a corner in June and has emulated the 2018 postseason version of himself ever since.
In 24 second half appearances, he has posted a solid 3.60 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while registering an impressive 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Kelly overall owns a 5-4 record, 4.62 ERA, 3.80 FIP and 1.40 WHIP with 62 strikeouts against 22 walks in 50.2 innings pitched this season (54 games).
Roberts was hopeful that Kelly would return to the mound in Thursday’s finale against the San Diego Padres. However, that never came to fruition. Kelly is now expected to pitch in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park.