Dodgers Team News

Joe Kelly Takes Big Step Toward Return to Dodgers’ Bullpen

When the Dodgers placed Joe Kelly on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder strain on May 6, it dealt a serious blow to the bullpen. Kelly, 35, was the team’s highest-leverage reliever outside of closer Evan Phillips at the time of the injury. And although the Dodgers had activated Blake Treinen from the injured list just a day earlier, Treinen’s 2024 debut would mark his first game in two years. There was little telling how he would adapt to full-time major league relief work.

The Dodgers have been fortunate to survive Kelly’s injury. Their bullpen ranks first in MLB with a 1.51 ERA in the last two weeks without Kelly. Still, the Dodgers are eagerly awaiting the return of the fan favorite while rotating through a cast of low-leverage relievers in his stead. Yohan Ramirez became the latest right-hander to join the bullpen carousel. He was acquired from the New York Mets in a cash trade Monday.

Monday, Kelly’s return drew closer with news from manager Dave Roberts that he had resumed playing catch.

Kelly is 0-0 with a 4.73 ERA in 15 appearances out of the bullpen this season. He’s struck out 14 batters across 13.1 innings while walking only five. He’s the Dodgers’ only relief pitcher — and one of just two pitchers on the staff overall — whose fastball has touched 100 mph this season, according to Statcast.

The success of the Dodgers’ bullpen has come in spite of, not because of, its stability. Since last Wednesday, the Dodgers have seen three relievers arrive (Ramirez, Anthony Banda, Elieser Hernandez), three others go (J.P. Feyereisen, Gus Varland, Nabil Crismatt), and two others (Eduardo Salazar, Ricky Vanasco) come and go.

Roberts said their success on short notice has been a team effort.

“It takes a lot of work as far as the front office detecting certain guys from the outside, also player development having guys interanlly that we’ve used and plugged in, guys that have been optioned, guys that unfortunately we’ve had to DFA. For me, it’s the pitching guys, the run prevention guys. They’ve allowed for an environment to thrive. From Mark (Prior) to Danny (Lehmann) to (Josh Bard) to Connor (McGuiness), all those guys are hugely impactful for every single one of these guys. Then you look at the players themselves; it’s their guys to go out there and do their job, and they’ve done a fantastic job of that.”

— Dodgers manager Dave Roberts

Photo Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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JP Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra writes and edits Major League Baseball content for and is the author of 'The 50 Greatest Dodger Games Of All Time.' He once recorded a keyboard solo on the same album as two of the original Doors. Follow at

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