If Kenley Jansen isn’t ready for the start of the season, who could close games for the Los Angeles Dodgers?
The Los Angeles Dodgers reported for summer camp last week, but several players are still missing, including closer Kenley Jansen. While the official reason for Jansen’s absence is unknown, it is easy to speculate it could be related to Covid-19 safety protocols.
Whatever the circumstances leading to the right-hander to miss the start of camp, the Dodgers remain optimistic that he will be able to join the team sooner rather than later. That said, manager Dave Roberts admitted this week that he has at least thought about alternative options to close games should Jansen need extra time to get his arm ready for regular season action.
The Dodgers are set to open the season in two weeks against the San Francisco Giants.
Jansen has had heart problems in the past, although he had surgery in 2018 to correct the issue. While he could be at higher risk to severe illness from the novel coronavirus, he recently indicated on 710 ESPN Los Angeles that he wasn’t concerned about it.
"“I don’t want to live my life in fear of something,” Jansen said. “I’m going to be cautious, make sure I wash my hands, if I’m in a clubhouse, just keep my distance. But health-wise I think I’m fine, I feel great, thank God.”"
The veteran closer is looking for a rebound season after spending time improving his mechanics at Driveline Baseball this offseason. He looked sharp in Spring Training in March, striking out 11 of the 22 batters he faced, allowing just four hits in six appearances.
However, if the Dodgers do need to start the season without Jansen – whether his current absence turns into a longer-term issue or if he needs time to stretch out his arm again – there are plenty of options to fill in at the closer role.
Unfortunately, set-up man Pedro Baez is also missing from camp for unknown reasons, so the list of candidates starts a little deeper in the bullpen.