Dodgers: Could David Price supplant Kenley Jansen as closer?

Thomas Carannante
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: David Price #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the 12th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: David Price #33 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the 12th inning of a game against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park on April 16, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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David Price was last featured in a relief role in 2008 when he was called up by the Tampa Bay Rays while the team was making its first ever run to the World Series.

That was back when the left-hander was hitting triple digits with his fastball. Gone are those days, however, in Year 13. Price has taken on a new role with his new team.

Ever since he was traded from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers, his career has been in limbo. Price sat out the 2020 season due to concerns regarding the pandemic. Heading into 2021, it was unclear if he’d even start after the team signed Trevor Bauer and were likely more eager to give outings to youngsters Julio Urias and Dustin May.

Price willingly took on a relief role after telling the front office he’d do whatever it took to help the team’s other pitchers get quality innings.

And after his recent run in the back end of the bullpen, is it possible the left-hander will take over as the closer at some point this year?

His overall numbers do not look good because of his first two outings, which featured 3.2 innings of work, five earned runs, nine hits and two walks against the Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics. However, that was Price’s first action since 2019. He was bound to falter from the jump since he hasn’t pitched in an MLB game since Sept. of that year. His last time making back-to-back starts? July 24 and 30 of that season. It’s been a long time.

But since those two relief appearances, Price has tossed four scoreless innings, earning a win and a save. Eight strikeouts. One walk. Two Hits. He’s got ways to go, but it looks like he’s slowly getting his stuff back.

Though Kenley Jansen’s numbers look way better right now (2.57 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and three saves), he’s now blown two games out of his six appearances, with the latest coming on Friday night. He needed just one out to finish off the four-out save against the Padres, but he walked Manny Machado with two outs, Machado then stole second, and Eric Hosmer drove him in with an RBI single to tie the game and force extras.

The ninth inning has been the biggest worry for Dodgers fans since 2019, which is when Jansen began to really crack and relinquish his status as a shutdown closer. If this trend continues early on in the season and Price, who has a fresh arm, plows ahead on this trajectory, manager Dave Roberts might be faced with a difficult decision to change things up in the back end of the bullpen.

It’s not a coincidence Price has already gotten back-to-back high-leverage opportunities in mid-April, is it?

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