The Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the San Francisco Giants in blowout fashion on Sunday, putting the finishing touches on what was a dominant regular season showing. The club tallied their 106th win, surpassing the 1953 Brooklyn team for the most in franchise history.
Rich Hill, pitching through a strained MCL in his left knee, allowed just one hit in three shutout innings. The final tuneup start was encouraging enough for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to all but confirm the left-hander will be the club’s Game 4 starter in the postseason.
Joe Kelly additionally got some work in after being sidelined for the past two weeks due to an unspecified lower body injury. He induced two groundouts on six pitches in what was his first appearance since Sept. 18.
Kelly was happy with his performance and is now setting his sights on being available for Game 1 of the National League Division Series and postseason as a whole, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“Just getting out there and getting in game speed was good,” said Kelly. “Stuff was sharp. No problem getting loose. I’ll be good [by Thursday]. I’ll be able to [go back-to-back].”
Kelly recently admitted to feeling fatigued and hampered on certain pitching movements, so for him to be pleased with Sunday’s outing is certainly a step in the right direction.
The right-hander’s availability and potential to succeed in the playoffs is further amplified by Kenley Jansen’s inconsistencies this season. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has not ruled out removing him from closer should his struggles carry over into October.
After a rough start to his Dodgers tenure, Kelly turned a corner in June and has emulated the 2018 postseason version of himself ever since. In 24 second half appearances, he posted a solid 3.48 ERA and 1.11 WHIP while registering an impressive 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Kelly additionally held opponents to a meager .176/.333/.176 batting line in seven September appearances. In 55 overall regular season games, the 31-year-old compiled a 5-4 record, 4.56 ERA, 3.78 FIP and 1.38 WHIP with 62 strikeouts against 22 walks across 51.1 innings pitched.
The Dodgers, having secured the best record in the NL, return to action on Thursday, Oct. 3, for Game 1 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium. They’ll host either the Washington Nationals or Milwaukee Brewers, who face off in the NL Wild Card Game two days prior.