It is no secret that the past week of baseball for the Los Angeles Dodgers was a miserable one. After losing four consecutive games, the team blew another spectacular Clayton Kershaw start on Sunday against the Houston Astros in the ninth inning.
Closer Kenley Jansen blew just his second save opportunity on the season, making him 24-for-26. The inning didn’t exactly start in his favor, as he described the two hits that the Astros got as lucky swings that unfortunately dropped.
First, Carlos Correa singled on a pitch almost at his head. After keeping Jansen on the fences about stealing, the pitcher would have to check the baserunner four times during his at-bat with Luis Valbuena. On the first pitch against Evan Gattis, Correa took second base and set himself up to score on Marwin Gonzalez’s single to right field.
The frustration set in for Jansen after the game when referring to the situation with Correa on first. According to J.P. Hoornstra of the L.A. Daily News, Jansen stated that he wasn’t willing to change his regular approach to deal with a baserunner:
Sometimes,” Jansen said, “you just can’t give up your best stuff, you know what I’m saying? I try to keep them on all the time, but you can’t trade stuff just to hold the runners.”
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound closer does have a rather long delivery compared to other Major League pitchers, but hasn’t had to deal with baserunners a lot because he doesn’t allow many to get on base. On Sunday, the issue did become a problem and exposed an area that he desperately needs to improve on.
Since Jansen debuted and claimed the closer spot in 2010, only four players have been caught stealing for an unimpressive 89 percent success rate. Although the Curacao native does have the dominating numbers in his closer spot, when runners get on base, teams are always thinking of stealing on him.
The 27-year-old also stated that he wasn’t bothered by the steal that much, because he was thinking of the bigger picture:
Get on second, don’t bother me, just can’t score.”
Manager Don Mattingly voiced his support for the closer by saying that the closer did take precautionary steps on Correa. Mattingly also said that he changed his tempos and was doing the right moves to keep the runner on first on his toes about a potential throw.
On the season, Jansen is 2-1, with a 2.67 ERA, 1.93 FIP, 140 ERA+, and 0.74 WHIP. The fifth-year player has been one of the only bright spots in a subpar bullpen, especially with his 15.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio.