Kenley Jansen's second season away from the Los Angeles Dodgers has officially resulted in his first missed playoff berth since 2013, as the Red Sox have come up well short of (Jansen's personal) expectations.
Boston's failure has been no fault of their closer's; in Year 1 of a two-year pact, the powerful righty delivered another impressive campaign that resulted in an All-Star nod, saving 29 games with a 3.63 ERA.
Still, when the postseason tournament begins, Jansen's Red Sox will be home watching, meaning his age-35 season will be yet another one that ends with someone other than the big right-hander on the mound. Believe it or not, despite helping the Dodgers get over the hump in 2020, that's still a sticking point for Jansen.
When asked about whether or not he could stomach watching someone other than the Red Sox record the final out of this year's World Series, Jansen launched into a monologue that veered into a surprising Dodgers-related direction.
Dodgers' Kenley Jansen still a little salty he didn't close out 2020 World Series
Quoth Jansen when asked if would ever be able to watch the final pitch of a World Series.
"No. Can't do it. It irritates me.- Kenley Jansen
That’s the drive I have because I still haven’t experienced being the last guy out there yet. And not me being selfish, that’s the only goal I have in my life as a baseball player, to be the last guy out there celebrating because I didn’t get to do it. I won a World Series, but everything I did right I didn’t get to do that moment because I didn’t have the best postseason with the Dodgers. And that’s understandable. The only thing that is driving me right now is to be the last guy standing and hopefully I can do it with this organization."
"And that's understandable."
It's also completely understandable that, try as he might, Jansen still can't feel satisfied with his decorated MLB career without experiencing that moment, the apple of every closer's eye. But the postseason is unpredictable. It's rare that a World Series ends picture perfectly, with a trusted closer coming set, breathing fire and delivering a strike to put a capper on a title, as they've done 50 times prior during the regular season. In recent years, everyone from Daniel Hudson to Chris Sale has ended up delivering the final blow, which wouldn't be how anyone drew it up prior to the curtain rising on October.
Jansen made a pair of appearances in the 2020 Fall Classic, most famously allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning and getting walked off by Brett Phillips in Game 4 to temporarily reverse the Dodgers' series momentum. Therefore, with a two-run lead at the end of Game 6 and a championship on the line, Dave Roberts allowed Julio Urías to continue pitching after already plowing through 1.1 innings of excellent baseball.
The decision paid off; Urías threw another clean frame, and was the lucky one on the mound when the final strike was recorded. Jansen toiled with the Dodgers in numerous postseasons that came up short, and the kid got to wear the crown. It's no wonder that, even though the move proved fruitful, Jansen still feels like it represents a missing piece for his career. The ring likely helped, but the incomplete legacy remains.
Hopefully, the hard feelings surrounding a championship season don't linger too much longer. At least Andrew Friedman never had a trade deadline like Chaim Bloom's recent disaster. That seems to have struck a similar chord with Jansen, and, following Bloom's dismissal, that fence may never be mended.