In all likelihood, this will be the last season that Kenley Jansen closes games for the Dodgers. The 33-year-old is in the final year of a 5 year. $80 million contract that he signed following the 2016 season. It’s possible he signs a new deal with them, but I wouldn’t bet on that.
The question coming into the 2021 season has been and will be what version of Kenley the Dodgers will be getting. In 2019, Kenley came into the regular season having thrown just 6 innings in Spring Training. He did something very similar in 2018 due to some underlying health issues.
Jansen proved to be a roller coaster in both of those years, blowing 13 saves between those 2 seasons. He would go on to miss 2 save opportunities in the 2018 playoff run, and did not get a chance to during 2019. The Dodgers ultimately suffered greatly from that in their efforts to bring a championship back to Los Angeles.
But 2020 showed promise for Kenley, even after he started out the shortened season by being infected with the coronavirus. Jansen put up respectable enough numbers and got his hard contact rate WAY down once again. The only problem was that he was still missing his spots far too often. That resulted in a blown save during the World Series on a bloop single.
But heading into 2021, the plan is for Kenley to be the closer for the Dodgers. Dave Roberts confirmed that on Thursday afternoon during a media session, citing his hard work and dedication to the team.
The Dodgers will be in a unique position this year though. This is one of the first years where they have a number of guys that they can slot into his role, or even get away from the traditional closer role. Julio Urias, Brusdar Graterol, Victor Gonzalez, and Blake Treinen have all shown they can get big outs when needed.
Whatever happens in 2021, the bullpen is going to be VERY interesting to watch.
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