Dodgers: Jansen Showing the Importance of Rehab Assignments

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 22: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up a two run homerun to Paul DeJong #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals to trail 3-1 during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 22: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after giving up a two run homerun to Paul DeJong #12 of the St. Louis Cardinals to trail 3-1 during the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

As the Bullpen struggled while Jansen was out, the same phrase was muttered over and over again: “just wait until Jansen is back”. However, Jansen has been anything but himself lately, and the Dodgers organization is to blame.

The bullpen was unwatchable in the brief period Jansen was out with yet another heart issue. With something that serious it was quite surprising to see the big fella back on a big league mound in less than two weeks.

Dodger fans were not at all questioning the decision. That was because the team was in dire need of stability towards the back end of the bullpen. Kenley Jansen provides exactly that, or at least that is what he was supposed to provide.

While Jansen was out the Dodgers lost 6 games. In all 6 of those games, the Dodgers were either tied or had the lead in the seventh inning or later. The bullpen could not find a way to close out a game. The blame was unfairly pointed at Roberts.

What exactly is Roberts supposed to do? He called on Floro and he blew the lead, Chargois blew the lead, Rosscup blew the lead, Alexander blew the lead, Ferguson blown lead, and even Maeda was a victim of botching a late lead. There was no right answer for the skipper, no matter who he called upon, the job was likely not going to be done.

That flurry of events has led the Dodgers to the exact predicament that they are in currently. Unable to rely on anybody and I mean ANYBODY to close out a game, they did all they could to get Jansen back onto the field as soon as possible. Of course, they did their due diligence with Jansen’s heart problem, that is one thing that I know was not rushed.

It would be criminal of them to rush back Kenley if his heart was not 100 percent. The Dodgers do not want to cost the man his career or even worse his life. So they were very careful with the “injury” part of things.

However, the big mistake made was rushing him immediately back into the MLB. Even the most elite of pitchers can’t sit out for 2 weeks and expect to come back pitching at their best. It just doesn’t happen. That is the exact reason players have rehab assignments.

Aside from wanting to see how they have recovered from an injury the big league team wants them to knock the rust off before getting back into the MLB where hitters and pitchers will feast on any mistake. Failing to give Jansen a rehab stint has proven to be a very costly decision for now.

Jansen’s first game back was against the scorching hot Cardinals. They gave him the business, as both Jedd Gyroko and Matt Carpenter hit dingers off of a pair of flat cutters by Kenley. That was chalked up to rust and people were confident Jansen would be fine in his next appearance.

He wasn’t.

Jansen’s next appearance he came in a similar situation. As he did his previous game, Jansen gave up the 2 runs that would eventually lose the Dodgers the game. This time it was Paul DeJong that took him yard courtesy of a flat cutter. Well, that was chalked up to “he has never been good in non-save situations”.  Okay fair enough, he will be better in a save opportunity.

He wasn’t

He gave up a game-tying home run to Austin Hedges on you guessed it, a flat cutter. Now people did not know what to blame this blunder on. They were all out of excuses for the big man and now the worry is starting to kick in. Luckily the Dodgers won that game in extra innings and won the next game big, letting Jansen recuperate a bit.

In Texas, on Tuesday evening, he did take some small steps forward but still gave up two runs and was only able to escape the jam thanks to some fancy glove work by himself that led to a game-ending double play.

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Tuesday was the day you were able to see all of the built-up frustration from the Dodgers all-time saves leader. He was working much quicker than he usually does. As a result, he was not as precise and despite his cutter looking a bit better, he was unable to get results because he was falling behind hitters.

Now theCuracao native looks to be in his own head and that is a bigger problem than ever before. A problem that should never have even started.

Jansen should have had a few tune-up appearances in the minors before getting back into the fray of a heated division race. I understand the temptation to get him back sooner because of the bullpen woes late in games, but doing so may have hurt the Dodgers chances.

Rather than giving up 2 games in 2 high profile matchups against a playoff team in the Cardinals, Jansen should’ve been in Rancho Cucamonga shaking the rust off and getting his cutter right. Instead, he got rocked. That has led to an increase in frustration and it has very clearly hurt the big man’s effectiveness on the mound.

If he made those mistakes in the minors maybe they aren’t home runs and even if they are they’re not high profile situations. It would relieve him of the stress and not cause as much frustration as it did against the red birds. Them rushing Kenley back has hurt the big man mentally and one thing you don’t want is a closer that is in his own head.

Next. Dodgers: Walker Buehler Quickly Emerging as a Reliable Starter. dark

I fully believe Kenley can and will rebind, but for now, all of the blame for this situation should be placed on the decision to skip a rehab stint and throwing him out to the lions immediately after spending two weeks off.