Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly gives honest take on his poor start in Dodgers bullpen

usatsi_12441383_133468180_lowres.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Joe Kelly gives honest take on his poor start in Dodgers bullpen

Boston Red Sox starting pitchers are struggling mightily through the first five games of the season, and one of their former teammates out West is going through similar problems.

Joe Kelly, who the Red Sox lost over the winter in MLB free agency, has not met expectations early in his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The right-handed reliever was booed by fans at Dodger Stadium on Monday night after blowing a save against the San Francisco Giants. The Giants ultimately won 4-2.

It was the second blown save in as many appearances for Kelly, who has allowed seven hits, six runs (all earned), two home runs and a walk in three innings pitched. 

He gave an honest assessment of his early-season performance after Monday's defeat. Check it out in the video below:

Kelly pitched well for the Red Sox throughout his tenure in Boston, and he was particularly effective against the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series. He hasn't found the same success in Dodger blue, and if Kelly doesn't turn it around soon, Los Angeles' bullpen could become a genuine concern.

David Price: Red Sox aren't panicking>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

How Joe Kelly's trash talk helped Mookie Betts snap World Series slump

How Joe Kelly's trash talk helped Mookie Betts snap World Series slump

His inconsistent performance on the mound may suggest otherwise, but Joe Kelly was a respected voice in the Boston Red Sox's locker room.

So much so, in fact, that he had the stones to call out the reigning American League MVP during the World Series.

In an illuminating feature on Kelly for The Athletic, author Pedro Moura shared a great anecdote about how Kelly gave Mookie Betts a little tough love prior to Game 5 of the World Series.

As Mookie Betts carried an 0-for-11 hitless stretch into the fifth game of the World Series, Kelly Jr. figured he knew how to help lighten the mood from the next locker at Dodger Stadium.

“We all know you’re holding the record for the biggest 0-fer streak in World Series history,” he said. “You already have the record. What else worse could happen?”

Sensing Betts had his attention, Kelly Jr. piped up again a minute later, just like he did as a kid.

“Hey, bro,” he said. “You got us to the World Series. You’re an MVP. But you haven’t done anything.”

Betts went 0-for-7 during a marathon Game 3 loss to the Dodgers and 0-for-4 the following night in Game 4.

But in the sixth inning of Game 5, the Red Sox outfielder smacked a solo home run off Clayton Kershaw that gave Boston a 3-1 lead en route to a 5-1 victory -- and prompted a "whoop" from Kelly in the bullpen.

Kelly's trash talk probably wasn't the sole motivator of Betts' home run, but at the very least, the clubhouse didn't seem to mind him ribbing the star outfielder. 

"They know I have good intentions, so I can talk a little bit of s---," Kelly told Moura.

Kelly more than pulled his own weight in the 2018 World Series, too, pitching six scoreless innings over five games to help the Red Sox secure their ninth championship.

The veteran reliever since has switched sides, signing with the Dodgers in free agency this offseason. So, the next time he talks smack to Betts or the Red Sox, it may not go over as well.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Could Craig Kimbrel's return to Red Sox be "a foregone conclusion"?

Could Craig Kimbrel's return to Red Sox be "a foregone conclusion"?

He may not get that six-year deal his agent said he was initially looking for, but Craig Kimbrel is likely headed back to the Red Sox after finding a surprisingly tepid free agent market for a 30-year-old closer who's 14th on the all-time saves list with 333.

That's the conclusion of veteran baseball writer Richard Justice of MLB.com. In his rundown of potential landing spots for the seven remaining high-profile, free-agent relievers, Justice writes of Kimbrel: 

He might not get the six-year deal the Red Sox have resisted giving the 30-year-old right-hander. But he could still match the largest contract ever given a closer, that being the five-year, $86 million deal Aroldis Chapman got from the Yankees two offseasons ago. With the loss of Kelly and the lack of a proven closer being the only real question for the defending champions, Kimbrel's destination seems a foregone conclusion.

Joe Kelly signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, leaving the Sox closer options dwindling, though Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Alex Cora have expressed faith in setup men Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes to close. Dombrowski also stated publicly at the winter meetings that the team wasn't planning on "big expenditures on an elite closer."  

Still, if Kimbrel's price comes down and a veteran closer is preferred, a Kimbrel reunion could make sense, as NBC Sports Boston Red Sox Insider Evan Drellich reported earlier this winter.  

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE