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Dodgers: Kenley Jansen Is Still Elite, But He Needs To Be Rested

If he gets more rest, who steps up?

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 31: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

When Kenley Jansen plunked Kris Bryant on Saturday, it was pretty clear to many Dodger fans that Kenley didn’t quite “have it.” Giving up the home run to Rizzo just a few moments later didn’t surprise me. Based on what I saw on Twitter, a lot of Dodger fans saw the end result coming as well. However the fan reactions to Kenley Jansen vary. From blame to absolution, from anger to acceptance, Kenley Jansen may be getting an unfair beat.

When You’re Superhuman, You’re Always Expected To Be

There are certain memories from childhood that stay with you, and for me many of them come from the 1991 world series. Tim McCarver commented on an error made by Terry Pendleton (at the time an elite fielder) and said that “sometimes you’re penalized by your ability.” We as people do tend to judge players or people more harshly when they’re so damn good.

Clayton Kershaw suffers this effect. Bullpen pitchers always suffer this effect. They often go in for only one inning. If they give up a run, that’s it, and their night has been a failure. If a starting pitcher gives up a run in the first inning, he still has the rest of the night to make a quality start. Bullpen pitchers are given little to no grace.

Breaking Down The Splits

Jesse Rogers for ESPN shared this statistical nugget on Sunday.

It’s pretty simple: When Kenley Jansen doesn’t pitch back to back, he only has a 1.74 ERA. Dodgers stat man (and friend of Dodgers Nation) added another good point to this statistical nugget.

Early in the season, Kenley Jansen’s grand slam walk off he allowed to the Padres was heavily inflating his ERA. As he’s added more innings, it’s become abundantly clear when and how Kenley has more success. He needs more days in between outings.

Dodgers Need To Rest The Big Man, But Who Fills In?

It’s hard for Dave Roberts to give Kenley more off days when there has been nobody else to trust in the bullpen. If the Dodgers don’t play ‘let’s make a deal’ before the deadline, then they’ve got to hope for better results from their pen. Julio Urias has been pretty effective for the most part, despite some hiccups. His future was obviously up in the air up until very recently. Dylan Floro has been very hit or miss, but can we ask of more from a reliever who up until last year, was pitching in obscurity? Joe Kelly has been a disaster. Whether it’s Floro, or even Caleb Ferguson or Ross Stripling, their has been uncertainty. The obvious choice is Pedro Baez.

It’s not necessarily ideal. Even while effective, Pedro tends to get behind the first batter, often walking them. He has managed to almost always get out of these jams, but this process is surely playing with fire. Still, results are results. It’s time for Pedro to assume the 9th when Kenley Jansen is resting.

Final Thoughts

It’s difficult to not feel like one is giving a sweeping mandate in terms of how to react to bullpen issues. There definitely is an issue with the Dodgers bullpen. It’s only human to react and get angry when the bullpen blows a lead, especially since the closer is typically there in the 9th inning. It’s shattering, often times heartbreaking, when our team loses the lead right before the end. It’s good to get that invested and it’s okay to react angrily or otherwise. It’s also good to look at numbers and statistics. Statistics help define truths that transcend emotional reactions. Kenley Jansen is still very good, but he needs more rest.

Written by AJ Gonzalez

AJ is a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in California. His whole family are also lifelong Dodgers fans. He lives in Tennessee with his wife, daughter, beagle, and strat.

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  1. How much rest does Kenley need? He just had 14 days and he only pitches 1 inning. Everyone else has been pulling their weight.

  2. Relying on Jansen to close every game (especially going into September/October) isn’t realistic. Obtaining a second closer who can also work as a middle reliever would be ideal. There’s only six weeks left to get the pen ready for a pennant run!

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