Last week was probably one of the worst weeks in Kenley Jansen’s career. The long time Dodgers Dominating Closer walked off the field at Dodger Stadium to a chorus of boss and criticism after giving up his 6 blown save of the season.
The Dodgers were holding onto a 1-0 lead from another gem pitched by Walker Buehler. Kenley Jansen comes in and here comes the Blue Jays Rowdy Tellez, who one could argue would be casted as the type of player you would bring up for a home run blast on the road in the top of the 9th inning.
As you can see in the photo above, Rowdy looks like the kind of batter that loves tasty treats down the middle and Kenley didn’t disappoint as he served up one of his predictable tasty cutters at 93mph tailing right towards the barrel of Tellez’s bat.
BOOM! The Blue Jays are now tied up 1-1 and if not for a Max Muncy walk-off, the criticism and volume of boos outside of Dodger Stadium would have probably gone to levels never seen before.
Dodger fans have waited 31 years for a World Series championship and the last two years have been amazing journeys, but delivered disappointments at the destination that have just made the fan base want it that much more. This year’s Dodger team has taken the fans on another incredible journey with the amazing starting rotation, MVP performance from Cody Bellinger, performances by the amazing young rookies rotating through the lineup and who can forget the 12 Walk-Off wins that have shown the resilience that is needed in October and November.
The elephant in the room is the bullpen. Ever since the 2017 team’s dominating performance in the regular season, fans have known that this is the one area on the team that needs the most help. Kenley Jansen is the face of that bullpen and his disappointments in the last two World Series have just given the fan base even more to worry about.
“Sometimes I get myself in trouble, because when I blow hitters out like that with a few pitches, it’s like, ‘Aw, s—, I got it today,'” Jansen said. – ESPN
With a career high 3.62 ERA and six blown saves as we approach October and the Dodgers not pulling off a deal at the trade deadline in July, everyone knows that the pressure is on the bullpen to come through to end the Dodgers World Series Drought.
Toronto’s blown save looks like the tipping point the Dodgers and Kenley Jansen needed to have a real “Come to Jesus” moment. The rumors of Kenley’s stubbornness and anger were confirmed in his interview with ESPN, but the important part to realize, is that acceptance of age, acceptance of needed change and acceptance of the actual challenge ahead have been taken in by Jansen.
“It’s a game of adjustments,” Jansen said, “and I can still be so damn good if I make the adjustments. I just gotta be a little more smart.” – Jansen, ESPN
We’ve all heard it before from Kenley before the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Talks about working on his technique were always the standard answers he’d give to a poor outing, but in this interview with Gonzalez, it does seem that Kenley is lowering his guard and facing the truth.
Dodger fans have seen what can happen when the veteran begins to accept their realities with the way Clayton Kershaw has reinvented himself this year.
KENLEYFORNIA puttin’ it down for Californ-i-a. pic.twitter.com/vPxeJ2nisT
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 24, 2019
In yesterday’s Yankees game, Kenley came in with a 2-1 lead and the anxiety of an entire stadium and fan base on his back.
Will Kenley hold onto his promise to make adjustments and be smart with his pitch sequencing?
The inning saw a total of 21 pitches:
- 11 Cutters
- 7 Fast balls
- 3 Sliders
Jansen was able to work himself out of a bases loaded jam by striking out the last two Yankees Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez, so let’s hope that Kenley not only trusts himself to deliver the pitches, but also his catcher and coaching staff on what pitches to throw.
Any time there’s a problem, the first step is acknowledging that this is a problem and from the looks of it, a solution is hopefully coming.
Check out the amazing full ESPN interview here by Alden Gonzalez.
Jansen spoke passionately the day after his blown save against the Blue Jays about how he wasn't going to lose confidence in himself and wanted to pitch with a positive attitude. He also talked about how much he was looking forward to facing the Yankees. Now is his chance.
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) August 24, 2019