The Dodgers have been struggling with their bullpen for a solid chunk of the year, but Joe Kelly has been their most consistent reliever over the past few months.
Before his appearance on Saturday night, Kelly had not pitched since September 1 as a six day break. It appears that we now know why:
Dave Roberts said Joe Kelly has been dealing with something physical in his lower half, which is why he hadn’t pitched since last weekend.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 8, 2019
This is not the most ideal development considering how necessary Joe Kelly’s success is to not just the Dodgers’ bullpen, but the team in general. This could be a huge factor in Kelly’s recent downturn in output, evidenced by his lackluster performance on August 29 when he allowed three earned runs in his inning of work.
Regardless of this development, Kelly is quite possibly the Dodgers’ best and most reliable reliever at the moment. With Kenley Jansen struggling mightily and relief pitchers like Yimi Garcia not holding their weight, a loss of Kelly looms even larger.
On the season, Kelly’s numbers look fairly uninspiring — 4.56 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings pitched — but we all know exactly what he has been since May 8. From May 8 through August 28, Kelly held a minuscule 1.69 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings.
The Dodgers need Joe Kelly more than ever down the stretch and they need him healthy in October. Let’s just hope this undisclosed lower half issue does not loom larger than currently appears. The biggest key is that the Dodgers felt strongly enough about his health to throw him out there on Saturday night, regardless of how his performance turned out: two walks in one inning of work.
He will be okay, folks. At least let’s hope.