The Dodgers once again came up short in 2018 and Kenley Jansen once again struggled in the World Series. With Joe Kelly now in the mix, Jansen won’t have to worry about pitching multiple innings.
Kenley Jansen had a challenging season for the Dodgers in 2018 and he will look to get past that by getting back to his dominant form in 2019. Last year Jansen had a scare when he experienced issues with his heart while in Colorado. After getting that fixed this off-season, Kenley will look to rebound in 2019.
Jansen has already been throwing bullpen sessions in Arizona which is a big change from last spring where the Dodgers held him back and he started throwing later than usual. While the altered schedule did not contribute to his heart problems, it may have contributed to his season that was subpar for his standards.
Kenley had a 3.01 ERA which was the highest of his career and saw his walk rate jump to two walks per nine innings while allowing a .201 opponent’s average. He also blew four saves and while overall his statistics still look elite, it really has more to do with how dominant Jansen has been that his 2018 season is viewed as a down season.
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While Kenley did not allow a single run through the first two rounds of the postseason, he once again ran into trouble in the World Series. In the World Series he allowed two home runs and pitched to a 4.50 ERA while running into trouble when asked to pitch more than one inning again. Two innings and the World Series have not seemed to mix well with Jansen which is one reason the Dodgers signed Joe Kelly who will set him up and can pitch multiple innings being a former starter.
The 2019 season will be a big one for Kenley Jansen who has the ability to opt out of the last two years of his contract after this season. That is unlikely to happen given he is set to make solid money and the free agent market has been unkind to Craig Kimbrel who is one of the top closers in the game. Given his heart issues and medication that made him feel fatigued last season, Jansen should be primed to get back to form in 2019.
The Dodgers had one of the best bullpens in the postseason last year and now that Ryan Madson is gone and Joe Kelly is in, the pen should be even better this coming season and the postseason. If Jansen gets back to being the dominant closer he has been for most of his career, the Dodgers’ bullpen will once again be one of the best in baseball. Combine that with their top tier starting rotation and the Dodgers should be primed to make it back to the World Series.