St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly addressed the media prior to NLCS Game 4 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. In all likelihood, he will be pitching in Game 5 tomorrow afternoon.
Oct 10, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly (58) talks with the media after being announced as the starter for game one of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Busch Stadium. Image Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Q. When you were out here and you guys were out here early in the season you were kind of struggling, and then it was kind of shortly after that that you got in the rotation and things started to fall your way. Does it seem like it’s been kind of a whirlwind this year for you?
JOE KELLY: I wouldn’t say whirlwind, but, yeah. I was pitching different situations throughout the whole year until I got the starting job again. Coming out of the bullpen, long relief, later‑inning guy. It’s been different, but I mean, it’s been fun.
I guess, the versatility helps with the front office and Mike and all those guys to make those decisions. But, I mean, when I got my opportunity, I wanted to jump right at it and see what I could do with it.
Q. You’re from not too far from here; is that right?
JOE KELLY: Yeah, I was born in Anaheim, but I grew up in Anaheim and Corona.
Q. Were you an Angel fan or Dodger fan growing up?
JOE KELLY: I liked Oakland a lot for a long time, and as I got older I just started following players, favorite players.
Q. How long is it taking you to grow the beard that you have now? Could you pitch if it was as big as Brian Wilson‘s or as bushy as some of the guys on the Red Sox?
JOE KELLY: That’s a funny question. I don’t really grow facial hair that well, as you can tell. So it’s taken a couple weeks for this. I would probably never know how that felt because my facial hair won’t grow that good, so…
Q. You’ll be facing the same team now two starts in a row. What is the challenge in that familiarity? And does it force you to changeup anything since they just saw you last week?
JOE KELLY: Obviously they know what I’ve got, and I know what they’ve got. It’s just going to be about executing pitches, ultimately. There are a couple time this is year where I faced teams back‑to‑back times. A good Pirates team I faced back‑to‑back times five days later. It’s just going to be all about making pitches. I’m not going to go out there and try to be a different kind of pitcher that I’m not. When you make good pitches, ultimately you’ll be more successful than not.
Q. Will you have a big contingent of family here tomorrow given your‑‑
JOE KELLY: I’ll probably have a few family and friends, not like during the regular season. But I’ll have a good amount of people here supporting.
Q. In the last start you pitched out of some trouble and that’s been something you’ve been able to do with runners on base. Is that an outgrowth of the stuff you worked on in spring where it was pitch to contact, try to be more efficient and see what happens with balls in play as far as relying on the defense?
JOE KELLY: I don’t know. I think it’s just when you’ve got guys on you need to make a pitch or they’re going to score. I wouldn’t say that every pitcher‑‑ I mean, every pitcher bears down from pitch one. But when those guys are on, you’re going to try to bear down a little bit more.
Obviously, you don’t want them to score, and it’s the playoffs. Every run definitely matters. I wouldn’t say it leads all the way back to spring training. It’s just you go out there, you know what kind of stuff you have to get guys out. If there are guys on base, you’re going to try to do whatever can you to make sure he doesn’t cross home plate.
Q. There’s been a lot of moments in the series where a player has celebrated a big out, a big run. Why is it that Puig seems to get under the skin of the opposing team different than other players?
JOE KELLY: I don’t know if he gets under the skin of other teams. I mean, it’s the playoffs. It’s an exciting time. Every other sport celebrates. I think that you’re in that moment. I mean, I’ve had a lot of energy. It’s just something that you’re just having fun out there. I think it’s something that our team will worry about and their team will worry about themselves too.
Q. Does having the experience of pitching in Game 1 here and having some postseason experience before that help prepare you for this start, do you think?
JOE KELLY: Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I just faced these guys, obviously. That experience of seeing how these guys approach me is going to help. I think I’m going to go over and go over my game report and scouting report with Yadier tomorrow and just do what we can to get past these guys.
Q. Just the pressure?
JOE KELLY: Oh, the pressure? Yeah, I mean, you always have good energy going into the game. But being through it, I was a part of it last year and this year. It should help a little bit.
Q. Having grown up in this area, did you come to Dodger Stadium frequently as a kid, and if so, is there any game that stands out to you from when you attended?
JOE KELLY: I attended a few games when I was really young. Obviously, the Angels were closer to my part of town, and I went to a lot more Angel games than I came here. But I would probably say I came to around 10 when I was young to Dodger Stadium. But definitely more in Anaheim, I went.
Q. You got a hit off Greinke that led to a couple runs in the first game. Do you think he’ll pay more attention or special attention to you tomorrow when you’re back there?
JOE KELLY: I don’t know. I mean, he’s a very good pitcher and he’s very smart. He made me look like a fool my last at‑bat. He struck me out with a really, really good slider. I’m pretty sure he’s paying attention to me the whole time. I mean, I’m not going to give away any scouting reports. I’m not a great hitter, but I can make contact sometimes. But we’ll see what happens.
Q. When you think about the type of pitcher that you were at UCR and your role there and then how you evolved as a professional, how would you describe that? Are there one or two things that are different about you as a pitcher now than when you were in college?
JOE KELLY: Yeah, there probably is. I didn’t have four pitches when I was in college. I just had a good arm and I was just literally throwing it as hard as I could, trying to throw it low, down the mid and try to blow it by hitters. If there was a leadoff hitter, I’d treat him the same as a clean‑up hitter. From pitch one I was just trying to strike guys out and stuff. But now, obviously, you’ve got to pitch. It’s a bigger situation, bigger scenario. Hitters are a lot better, obviously, and you’ve kind of got 1 through 9, even the pitcher, like you just said. You’ve got to learn how to pitch and use all four pitches and command all four pitches at this level.
Q. As a young pitcher, where do you notice Yadier’s impact on you the most? Is it most noticeable just in game calling pitches or in the pregame meeting or chats on the mound? Where do you feel that impact the most?
JOE KELLY: I feel it all the time. I mean, there are numerous times throughout this year where I’ll be watching one of our fellow starters pitch, and he’d come up in between innings to me and fill me in on what just happened. Or, hey, did you see that with this hitter? This is what we’re going to try to do with this hitter. I mean, in game, he comes out and he’s great. He’ll give you confidence about‑‑ tell you what’s working for you and what’s not working. Like, hey, I think we should do this. What do you think? And it also helps that you can throw a 30‑foot heater and spike it, and the guy blocks everything. That also helps. His defense is not too bad either.