We’ve all seen this story before. Dave Roberts calls on Kenley Jansen in a key situation and we all hold our collective breaths until we either sigh in relief or shout a few choice words at our television.
This should not be the reaction that a fanbase has whenever their closer enters a game. A closer is supposed to instill confidence in their teammates and in their fans, not in the opposing dugout. But for the better part of the last few years, we’ve seen the exact opposite more times than not.
The time has come for the Kenley Jansen experience to end.
Now, this is not to say that Jansen should never pitch for the Dodgers again. He can still be a solid piece in lower leverage situations. But the days of claiming victory as soon as he starts his jog out to the mound in the 9th are over.
Another Playoff Meltdown
Last night provided all of the evidence needed to prove this point. With a three-run lead and only 3 outs to go, it should have been goodnight for the Padres. Instead, what we witnessed was perhaps the final straw for a closer desperately trying to stave off father time.
None of this is to say that Kenley is a bad guy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Teammates have always raved about his leadership and good nature in a clubhouse, but that can only take you so far. Even Jerry Hairston Jr., a former teammate of Jansen who knows what he’s going through, knows that this can’t keep happening.
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) October 8, 2020
The key quote from J Hair.
He can’t get the ball in the 9th inning right now.
To his credit, it sounds as if Dave Roberts is reaching the point where he can no longer defend his current closer and may finally choose the good of the team over the ego of one player. It didn’t cost them tonight, but these close calls are only asking for trouble.
Luckily, the Dodgers have plenty of pitchers that they can turn to in the ninth inning going forward. You have players like Brusdar Graterol and Victor González ready to step in, and hell, even Blake Treinen has looked more dependable thus far. There is absolutely no excuse for Dave Roberts to continue testing the baseball Gods by not going to his best guys when the pressure is at it’s highest.
Kenley Jansen has been arguably the greatest reliever in Dodger history for much of the past decade. He has had his fair share of signature moments and will always have a place among the best to ever wear Dodger blue. If he were anywhere near his former self, it would be a no-brainer to throw him out there to close out every game. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t seem to have it for whatever reason and it’s something the Dodgers cannot risk any further.
I would give anything to have our confident and dominant closer back. Anything. But with so many better options waiting for their shot to prove themselves, it’s looking more and more like the final countdown has begun for Kenley Jansen.