Currently sitting with both the best record and best run differential in the majors, the Dodgers may soon be receiving an energetic boost with regards to several players returning from the injured list.
The bullpen statistics of the Dodgers are still among the best in the MLB. While the team’s 2.55 relief ERA—if you feel that ERA is a useful stat for relief pitching—has fallen to second in the bigs, the bullpen crew’s .202 BAA and 1.05 WHIP still lead the entire majors.
Nevertheless, if recent performances and momentum are any indication, both Kelly and Baez will be welcomed to the Los Angeles relief corps with open arms.
Baez looked impressive in a simulated game on Sunday after being sidelined for more than two weeks with a groin injury. The 32-year-old righty will throw another bullpen before Wednesday’s middle game against Arizona and could be activated just in time for a short, two-game set against the Astros at home on Saturday.
The 32-year-old Kelly’s return from shoulder soreness will certainly come a bit later, as the most important factor in him coming back is serving a five-game suspension for his actions in an incident against the Astros back in July.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, skipper Dave Roberts “sounded more optimistic that Kelly is on track to help the club in the playoffs” instead of being a force down the stretch run of the regular season.
“Really good command, 95-97 MPH fastball, curveball had the shape he wanted,” said Roberts of Kelly’s bullpen on Monday. “Very encouraging.”
Like Baez, Kelly will participate in another carefully monitored throwing session on Wednesday.
Although there’s still no target date set for Justin Turner’s return to the team, he did take a step forward after taking some swings against Baez in the sim game on Sunday. Regardless, the 35-year-old third baseman has yet to do any significant running, which surely is the biggest hurdle he faces on his road back to action. According to Gurnick, there might be a chance that Turner is activated in the weekend series against the Astros, but only to be used as a designated hitter.
One other thing to keep an eye on over the next week is Walker Buehler’s blister issue. Right now, there’s nothing that suggests that the 26-year-old righty will miss his next start, but when considering that he lasted just 2-2/3 innings and 61 pitches in the series opener against Arizona on Tuesday, there’s definitely cause for concern.
After the game, Bill Plunkett of the OC Register wrote that “Buehler felt good physically” and that “the blister is just something we’re going to have to deal with.”
Gurnick reported on Wednesday evening that Buehler’s blister did not worsen with his start on Tuesday.
Buehler’s next start is tentatively scheduled against the Padres in San Diego on Monday.