Dodgers put Joe Kelly on injured list because of shoulder strain

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The return of Walker Buehler after a nearly two-year recovery from Tommy John surgery is expected to boost the Dodgers’ rotation, but the bullpen took another hit when veteran right-hander Joe Kelly was put on the 15-day injured list because of a right posterior shoulder strain before Monday night’s game against the Miami Marlins.

The team announced the roster move about 30 minutes before first pitch, well after manager Dave Roberts addressed reporters, so the severity of the injury was not immediately known.

The hard-throwing Kelly, in his 13th major league season, was put on the IL three times in 2023, suffering a right-groin strain in April and right elbow inflammation in July with the Chicago White Sox and a right forearm strain in August with the Dodgers.

Kelly retired the only batter he faced in Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves, striking out Adam Duvall with an 89-mph curveball to end the seventh inning. He notched his ninth “hold” of the season and lowered his ERA to 4.73 in 15 games, with 14 strikeouts and five walks in 13 ⅓ innings.

Since giving up a season-high four earned runs on March 30, Kelly had given up only three earned runs in 11 ⅔ innings.

Kelly joins three other high-leverage relievers on the shelf — closer Evan Phillips, who was put on the injured list Sunday because of a right-hamstring strain, right-hander Ryan Brasier, who was put on the IL because of a right-calf strain on April 29 and is expected to sit out two months, and right-hander Brusdar Graterol, who has been sidelined all season because of an inflamed shoulder and is nowhere near a return.

Even with all the injuries, the Dodgers entered Monday night’s game with a 3.41 bullpen ERA, the ninth-best mark in the league, and a 1.09 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning), the fourth-best mark in baseball.

They will now lean even more heavily on right-handers Blake Treinen, who was activated Sunday, Daniel Hudson and Michael Grove and left-handers Ryan Yarbrough and Alex Vesia, who had not given up an earned run in 9 ⅔ innings of nine outings entering Monday.

“They’ve all been really good,” Roberts said on Sunday. “They’re all throwing strikes, inducing soft contact. There are some strikeouts in there, and they’re not walking guys. We were the victim of the home run ball early … but overall, they’ve been good.”

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