Dodgers: Ditching Kenley Jansen won’t solve eternal bullpen issues
By Adam Weinrib
The Dodgers de-emphasized Kenley Jansen after a brutal first two playoff rounds. It didn’t improve their chances in Game 1 against the Braves.
For what feels like the 30th consecutive postseason, Dave Roberts has to manage a Dodgers bullpen with a meaty middle, featuring wild cards that’ll either bring him relieved praise or angered consternation depending on how the 50-50 proposition goes.
This time, though, he doesn’t have a sure thing in the back end of the ‘pen, either. There’s no catch-all for his skittish managing.
Naturally, in the one season in which Kenley Jansen hasn’t been good enough to close consistently, Roberts still doesn’t have any other arms he can reliably turn to in an effort to absorb those duties.
On Monday, that task (keeping a 1-1 game tied in the ninth) went to Blake Treinen. He failed. So did Jake McGee in a rare cameo, taken deep into the dimly-lit Texan night by Ozzie Albies.
And, when a 5-1 Braves victory concluded in Game 1, Roberts was left with a pile of questions that outnumbered his answers 2-1.
Theoretically, one potential “answer” would be to get far more length from his starter than the blistered and wild Walker Buehler was able to provide. His departure led to Brusdar Graterol, the most likely closer for this team moving forward, bailing the team out of a jam in the sixth. Dustin May, who can probably be trusted, too, also pitched before the final inning.
But Treinen, a veteran presence, should be able to be counted on in such a situation. The moonshot Austin Riley drilled off him to break the tie seemed to have been left on a tee, a sinker that sunk the Dodgers’ hopes instead.
By the time the rarely-used McGee allowed the backbreaker, all the rest of the baseball world could do was suppress their chuckles, as Ronald Acuña Jr. celebrated as wildly as a player can while rounding third.
Just two weeks ago, it was Roberts defending Jansen’s lackluster effort after “reviewing tape” overnight to change the opinion that the eye test left him with.
After Jansen’s Game 2 against the Padres, though, it became painfully clear he couldn’t be trusted with any sort of lead moving forward.
That left Roberts with Treinen and a rust-covered McGee in a momentum-dictating opener; after all, who would’ve let him get away with plopping Jansen in that contest?
As things tend to do when this Dodgers team hits the postseason, Treinen — who essentially never allows homers with his boring, sinking fastball — gave up an immediate moonshot. Roberts has trouble on his hands, and he won’t solve anything by going to old reliable, either.