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Dodgers: Kenley Jansen Trying to Embrace His New Role

The Dodgers’ closer is struggling with the idea of pitching once every series.

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 15: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on August 15, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

One of the most inconsistent pieces of the Dodgers’ team this year has certainly been the bullpen. The relief core gave up plenty of leads early in the season, and that was masked only by an extremely efficient offense. Kenley Jansen has not been an exception to that vulnerability by any means.

Jansen has pitched to a very below-average 3.59 earned run average in 2019, far worse than his 2018 season. He has given up 7 home runs in 47.2 innings of work and allowed opposing hitters to slug close to .400 on the year as well. It just never really feels like he’s locked in, aside from a few flashes of dominance throughout the year.

The entire organization and its fans recognize it is time for a change, and that looks to be happening. Jansen pitched just twice in the team’s most recent 6-road trip, and that may be the new norm.

Dave Roberts expressed the Dodgers’ desire to utilize Jansen once a series through Septemeber in hopes of getting him rested (and right) in time for playoffs. Jansen spoke with Mike DiGiovanna about his new role and where he felt he was best used.

“If Doc and I hadn’t come to an agreement, I wouldn’t have pitched on this last trip,” Jansen said. “I’ve got to keep pitching so I can find my rhythm.”

The plan seems to be to use Jansen in limited situations to have him prepared for anything when October rolls around. The good news is that Kenley recognizes that and seems to be on board.

“Yeah, it’s going to be weird…But you have to trick your mind, you know? When it comes to playoffs, there are going to be crazy situations. It’s not always about the saves. You have to be ready for anything.”

Jansen owns a career 2.08 era in the postseason with the Dodgers, compiling 16 saves across 12 different playoff series. Joe Kelly will likely take on more save opportunities in the meantime, given that he and Casey Sadler have been two of the most dominant Dodgers’ relievers.

Written by Brook Smith

Brook is the Senior Editor of Dodgers Nation, with several years of experience in sports journalism. He is an avid Dodgers and Lakers fan, and can be spotted fairly often at Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

9 Comments

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  1. I THINK THAT IS GREAT ,JANSEN KNOWING HIS ROLE ,EVEN THOUGH HE SAYS HE NEEDS TO KEEP PITCHING TO FIND HIS RHYTHM , HE HAS TO TRICK HIS MIND, NO , HE HAS TO FACE REALITY, HE CANNOT BE EFFECTIVE IN A CRUCIAL SITUATION, TRICK HIS MIND IS HE NUTS, TELLING YOUR MIND YOUR THE BEST, NO ONE CAN HIT YOU ,HE MAY TRICK HIS MIND BUT WHEN THAT BALL GOES FOR A HOME RUN HE DIDN’T TRICK THE BATTER I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH , SAD BUT TRUE.

    • Who ever wrote this article is very clueless. They are using him every series to keep him fresh because of his track record you can see he pitches better when he gets consistent playing time. That has nothing to do with him not being the closer. They are literally doing all they can to help Kenley back on track. Jansen will get back on track when he comes to terms with not using his cutter as much and stop trying to pitch everything high he doesnt have the velo to do that anymore. It’s funny how fake you “Dodger” fans are turning your back on the leader of our team/the best reliever weve has in our organization since Eric Gagne. Dont forget he stood up for Pedro Baez when all of you so called fans wanted Baez out of town. You guys need to relax and let him work it out. We have a big lead and Joe Kelly as a back up opition come playoff time.

      • Jansen is not a leader. Our leaders on this team are the ones willing to do whatever for the sake of the team and they all do except Jansen. He will not step down as closer without causing a disruption even if it means getting eliminated when we could’ve gone with Kelly

  2. He is a child. A child making what 17mil a year? Anyhow, he is unreliable and has been. He should never be handed the ball unless we have a 3 run lead as soon as he “could” blow it remove him. Forget his ego, its about the win, the series – not his ego. Anyone else (J.K., P.B.) is a better option at this point. Start now with a huge lead in the standings.

  3. Since Roberts thinks this was just a “hiccup” it’s doubtful we’ll see any changes. It’s not so much that teams rally off Kenley, it’s that he gives up bombs. It started in game 2 of the ‘17 WS. He gave up a bomb to Marwyn Gonzalez on an 0-2 pitch, and the dodgers went on to lose in extras.

    • Excellent point. People have short term memories. Before that WS both ESPN & LA Times wrote about the Dodgers’ unhittable bullpen, when Marwyn Gonzalez hit that HR off Jansen, it cracked the myth of the unhittable bullpen, Jansen was never the same again. He also gave up the walk off single in Game 5 of that WS. The facts are clear, Jansen couldn’t close the WS. If the Dodgers can get to the WS again this year, count on Jansen to blow more saves.

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