The Dodgers almost on a dime fell on hard times in terms of health and production. After leading or being near the top of baseball in team ERA for most of the season, particularly in the bullpen, the month of September quickly turned the tides of fortune for Los Angeles.
While others struggle, the biggest spotlight has been shined onto Kenley Jansen. In September, the closer has an ERA north of 17 (7 ER, 3.2 IP) after a deflating blown save against the visiting Houston Astros on Saturday. It’s the second straight clunker for Kenley, and stands out even worse after he took home the National League Reliever of the Month honors just days before.
After the game, a dejected Jansen’s response could easily be summed up. He needs to do a better job.
Just making pitches and then I can’t execute to put them away. It’s frustrating. I went back and watched the video. I’m executing, I’m ahead in the count with everyone. I just didn’t execute well to put them away.
Manager Dave Roberts was asked about his closer’s recent stretch of poor outings and what, if anything, it means for the future of Jansen. His answer, as usual, offered additional leash to get it straightened out.
The last three haven’t been great. The last two were his worst … we’ve just got to continue to give him confidence and expect him to go out there and close out games for us. … As far as leash, he’s our closer. But obviously performance matters. It does. And everyone in that clubhouse understands that.
Much of the Dodgers’ success in the postseason rests on the shoulders of Jansen. Moreover, with less than three weeks left in the regular season, the team can ill afford to wait for Kenley to ease back his level of confidence.