The Dodgers will have to face reality sooner or later: Kenley Jansen is no longer the shut down closer he used to be.
LA took a positive step towards this realization when they chose to bring in Brusdar Graterol to close out Game 2 against the Milwaukee Brewers, but the same debate will arise every time the Dodgers are in a close game in the late innings.
With that being said, will the Dodgers continue to ride the hot hand as they did in the Wild Card Series or will Dave Roberts place trust in his veteran closer?
According to Roberts himself, he has already discussed the possibility of being used outside of the 9th with Jansen, who seems to be on board with the idea. This plan of attack by the Dodgers not only allows them to use a stable of different pitchers to match up against specific hitters in the 9th, but it also opens up using the possibility of Jansen in other high leverage situations.
In regards to this particular approach, Kenley seems to be taking it in stride. He’s accepted putting the team’s success over his own preference, at least according to Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw.
I think because Kenley and I have been here a long time and not won anything yet, I think he understands he just wants to win. And he’s gonna be great about it and it’s not like we’re not gonna need him. We’re gonna need him at some point and we’re gonna need him in a big spot. We’re all bought into just trying to win the next 11 games and he’s going to buy into that as well.”
Accepting this decision in no way means that Jansen is happy with it, but it’s a positive sign nonetheless. If nothing else, this could light a fire under the long-time closer and lead to some inspired performances for the Dodgers when it matters most.
This also gives the team a chance to hold informal auditions for the closer role going forward with Victor Gonzalez and Brusdar Graterol being two very enticing options. Both have been nothing short of spectacular this season and will play big roles with the team for years to come.
The bullpen is perhaps the biggest wild card for the Dodgers this postseason with several promising but unproven pieces, but Tuesday night showed just how deadly they can be when everything is going right. If they can find a consistent rotation of pitchers to throw in innings 7-9, this team will be unstoppable.