Dodgers: Possible contingency plans for the struggling Kenley Jansen
Another appearance, another home run allowed late in the game, and another loss for the Dodgers. That’s how things have been going for Kenley Jansen lately.
He just can’t seem to be trusted anymore.
Last night against the Diamondbacks, Jansen let up another home run, this time to Eduardo Escobar in the 8th inning with the Dodgers already trailing 5–4.
Unfortunately, as I’m sure you all already know, Jansen has already tied his career-high in blown saves with a month left to go in the regular season. He blew a save back on Wednesday, August 27 and even before that appearance he hadn’t looked like himself for some time.
Since August 1, Jansen has allowed 3 home runs, 5 earned runs and 11 hits in 9 innings of work. Though he does have 11 strikeouts in those 9 appearances, they have not generally kept runs from scoring, with the lone exception coming in his tight-rope walking outing against the Yankees.
So what to do with Jansen? Can you remove him from the closer role without causing a stir, both in the media and in the locker room?
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I don’t think so. Jansen is a favorite in the clubhouse, especially among the veterans, even as the fans have begun to boo him at Dodger Stadium when he exits the game after ceding a run. Really, letting Joe Kelly or Pedro Baez take the closer role would be catastrophic to team chemistry.
Not only are neither equipped in terms of skills et, though Kelly could have the physical stuff, but both also are prone to be blown up and have had very poor stretches in high and low leverage situations (think back to Kelly before May 1).
The best way to handle the situation, for Jansen and the team as a whole, would be to focus on October. And the best way to do that is to have Jansen sit out at least 5 games a week.
He’s already thrown over 50 innings this season, and he’s definitely hit a wall in the second half, not to say he was even much better in the first half.
Jansen needs to be rested for the playoffs, because Jansen really is the only option Roberts has to close out a playoff game against a playoff-caliber lineup. If Jansen can regroup on the road to October by pitching only twice a week, or even once a week, then he can rest up for the really important games while also giving Kelly and Baez and even Sadler or Maeda some reps at closer.