Kelly hasn’t appeared in a game since last Wednesday. He threw six pitches, faced two batters and recorded one out. It was his only appearance since Sept. 14. Asked which body part is hindering Kelly, Roberts declined to narrow it down.
“It’s an overall body situation,” Roberts said before the Dodgers opened a three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. “Overall body. It’s not one particular part of the body.”
Roberts said Kelly will be reevaluated Thursday. He insisted Kelly will pitch again this year and “absolutely” wants Kelly to pitch in a game before the playoffs. The Dodgers regular season ends Sunday.
“The expectation is he’ll be ready to go once the bell rings,” Roberts said. “And before that too.”
Kelly pitched three times in four days before a three-day break until his last outing, against the Tampa Bay Rays at Dodger Stadium. He had resurrected his season until that point, morphing into the reliable flame-throwing back-end reliever the Dodgers believed they were getting when they signed him during the offseason. After an outing in Anaheim on June 10 in which his season reached a nadir and he emerged with a 7.59 earned-run average in 22 appearances, Kelly has posted a 2.45 ERA in 32 games.
But Kelly’s status will remain uncertain until at least a week before Game 1 of a National League Division Series. And the reason remains unclear.
“His head space and where his body’s at is most important,” Roberts said. “And, right now, the body part isn’t quite where we want it to be. So once he gets there, hopefully it’ll be Thursday, he’ll be back in the mix.”
Ross Stripling could start Wednesday
Roberts said there’s “a good chance” Ross Stripling will start Wednesday against the Padres. Whether he starts or pitches out of the bullpen, Stripling will work three innings. It could be his final outing of the regular season.
Clayton Kershaw will start Thursday’s series finale in San Diego. Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Rich Hill are scheduled to start the Dodgers’ three final regular-season games, against the San Francisco Giants.
Roberts maintained the rotation this week does not mean the Dodgers will use that order in the NLDS. Game 1 is Oct. 3. If Kershaw starts Game 1, it would be on six days of rest. Roberts said the Dodgers should have their answer by the beginning of next week.
“We’re talking through it, we are,” Roberts said. “Obviously, you’re looking at who potentially we’re going to face. I think that matters. So where we line up our guys Thursday, Friday, Saturday, knowing that we start the first game [Oct. 3], gives us some latitude to go in any direction we want.”
As of Tuesday evening, the Dodgers had four potential opponents for the NLDS: The Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets all are alive in the wild-card race. The Dodgers face the winner of the Oct. 1 wild-card game.