Dodgers: Kenley Jansen could save bullpen with 2021 resurgence

It’s a contract year for Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen, who really needs to put the last two seasons behind him.

In 2020, he was demoted from the closer role and was hardly used in high-leverage spots in the postseason. In 2019, his ERA ballooned to a 3.71 in 62 games. At that point, it was becoming clear his dominant days as the Dodgers’ closer were beginning to come to an end. The ninth inning just didn’t feel the same when he was called upon.

But everyone should get a pass for 2020. It was especially irregular for pitchers, and it was even worse for a guy like Jansen, who saw a big regression the year prior.

Let’s start anew in 2021, shall we?

Jansen has been tearing it up this spring, which, while it doesn’t mean much, it’s certainly way more encouraging that he’s not getting knocked around. Also, his cutter simply looks way better. And when fans take into account his recent comments, they can see why.

Though he knew it was the right decision for the Dodgers to roll with Julio Urias to close out Game 6 of the World Series, that didn’t mean it wasn’t painful for him to watch from the bullpen. That was supposed to be his moment. He’s been the team’s closer since 2012 and dealt with endless postseason heartbreak.

As a result, he sought out to make sure he would be the guy in 2021.

Just think about how valuable a Jansen resurgence would be for the Dodgers in 2021. Their one question mark when all was said and done was the back end of the bullpen, which was supposed to be Jansen’s role to secure. Every other aspect of the roster was downright dominant. The offense. The starting rotation. The defense. The situational hitting. The middle relief corps.

If the Dodgers can maintain all of that in 2021 and watch Jansen enjoy a renaissance of sorts, what can possibly stop this team? Manager Dave Roberts managed to navigate through that one flaw and it resulted in a World Series title.

Picture Jansen fully returning to 2017 form with guys like Blake Treinen, Corey Knebel, Julio Urias, Victor Gonzalez, Brusdar Graterol and Joe Kelly (if he can overcome his injuries) behind him? Not to mention that extended starting rotation, which could feature Jimmy Nelson, Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May.

Even the most high-powered opposing offenses in Major League Baseball may not have an answer if Jansen can complete the pitching staff and have it painting the corners and blowing by hitters until the final out.