This week on 3 Up, 3 Down, I dig into Walker Buehler’s hot start, a middle infield scenario that doesn’t involve Corey Seager in the Dodgers’ future, and touch a bit on the Kenley Jansen situation.
First, Walker Buehler is already in midseason form. As opposed to the last two years when Buehler wasn’t completely stretched out, he’s been able to handle a regular starter workload to start the season. Buehler has not been resigned to slowly building up his arm strength throughout April and May.
Buehler’s ability to go deeper into games relieves the pressure off of the bullpen. Rather than having to map out four-plus innings of relief, Buehler’s endurance has been a boon to the bullpen.
A Potential Future Middle Infield
Gavin Lux is also enjoying a strong start to the 2021 season. Lux was banished to the Alternative Site last year after underwhelming in Summer Camp. This year, Lux made the Opening Day roster and earned his playing time. He looks considerably more composed in the batter’s box. Rather than pressing at the plate, Lux has been more selective. Lux looks primed for his first productive full season in the majors.
Both he and utility man Zack McKinstry have provided quality at-bats and defense for the Dodgers. If shortstop Corey Seager leaves in free agency, McKinstry and Lux could be the Dodgers keystone combination for years to come.
Closer Kenley Jansen coughed up a run one lead against the Oakland Athletics this past Wednesday. The Dodgers went on to lose 4-3 in extra innings in the Oakland Coliseum. Kenley has struggled with his control in 2021 and as usual, his cutter has lacked its once lethal velocity.
Dodgers beat reporters contended all spring that Jansen would not be the Dodgers closer for the entire year.
Could sticking with Jansen to start the season be a nod of respect from Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman for the Dodgers all-time saves leader?
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