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Dodgers Look to Add More Bullpen Depth to Back Kenley Jansen

Even after acquiring Knebel, the Dodgers will add more arms.



The 2020 World Series win for the Dodgers was unlike the last few postseason runs for a lot of reasons. The fact they were able to finally win it all is enough to tell you that. But this year, Kenley Jansen’s playoff role was not what is has been over the years.

And maybe that is the key to success, maybe it’s not. But as of right now, Jansen remains the Dodgers closer. To make his as effective and useful as possible, the team will have to replace a few key arms in the bullpen and then some. Even after adding Corey Knebel to the mix for the 2021 season, Andrew Friedman and the front office are looking to build off of that. 

I think it’s safe to say that as we sit here in the beginning of December, that we still have some work to do in the bullpen. We like the guys who will be returning next year, but, obviously, we got some work to do there and fortunately, there are a number of guys on the market — both in the free-agent market and trade market — and so that’s where a decent amount of our attention is being spent right now. And I expect us to add at least a few guys before we get to [spring training].

The Dodgers could potentially lean heavily into free agency in order to fill their bullpen needs. If ever there was a year for them to do that, it would certainly be this offseason. There are a couple of really big arms on the market as of late, including a few names the team has already been linked to. 

Brad Hand represents an intriguing option that could give the Dodgers a mix of looks out of the pen. If they were to go that option, he would likely cost them a pretty penny. Liam Hendriks is another guy that they have been linked to, and he could potentially fill any role that the Dodgers might need. Again, he would come at a pretty high cost. 

Whatever they chose to do, Dave Roberts has reminded us that Kenley Jansen is still the closer. In his words, “The best-case scenario is Kenley is our closer, but that is solely dependent on him.” We’ll have to wait and see. 

Dodgers: Corey Knebel Trade Reportedly Nearly Didn’t Happen

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.

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  1. Roberts is the “I am your buddy” type of manager. He has to say that about Jansen. The reality is Jansen has lost velocity and control in key situations and cannot be trusted. Why do you think Urias was on the mound in critical close-outs especially after Jansen’s melt-down. in the WS again!
    Whoever does not make the rotation guys like Gonsolin or May will help the bullpen as will Gonzalez. It will reportedly be a long season. Perhaps not 162 but reportedly over 100 games. You need pitching depth. I am hoping they bring White and Gray up to get experience and big-league coaching. White came on strong at the end we shall see. Gray is rated 1 or 2 on prospect lists. Do they bring up both Ruiz and Gray?

  2. Jansen should not be the closer. His throw away game, and 10.18 ERA in the world series just put an exclamation point on a years long steady decline. Urias also gave us a glimpse of what closers are really supposed to do, shut down the opposition in order, close the door. And he isn’t even a closer. Jansen has had a great career, but you have to have a good memory to recall when he was dominant. It was a long time ago. He has one more year on his contract. That should be spent as a highest priced middle releiver in baseball. And then bid him a fond adieu. Even though Graterol is the heir apparent closer, and Knebel may return to form in 2021, Friedman may have to go with a frontline FA closer like Hader, Hand, or Hendriks just to block DR from his continued insistence on using Jansen in that role. The Dodgers are as prepared as any team in the history of baseball, other than the old Yankees, to go back to back. But we do need a closer who will secure games that have already been won, rather than throwing them away. And that’s just not Jansen anymore. Friedman’s going to have to take the lead on this one. DR just can’t see clearly on this one.

  3. If everybody is healthy, I don’t see a spot for Ruiz or Gray. They should play regularly in the minors, continue to develop, and be ready in case of an injury opportunity. You seem to like White, but he’s gotten bombed in the minors, can’t stay healthy, and is pretty fringe as anything other than middle relief depth maybe 13 or 14th in line behind a lot of guys.

    • It seems the Dodgers think he has potential as he did come up briefly last year and was at the alternate site. He has had an injury history. When healthy he has good to above-average velocity and can throw pitches with major league rotation.
      If a player was at the alternate site the Dodgers must believe he has MLB potential.
      Personally, I like what little I have seen of Gray, and the reports on Uceta, Jackson, Carrillo, Grove, and others look very promising. The Dodgers had, according to other MLB Scouts and MLB reporters a draft filled with very talented young arms Miller, Beeter, & Knack are all rated as high-end prospects. We shall see where they end up as we all know some can have the Curse of Potential and never realize it in the MLB.

  4. Kenley is like Samson. His hair came off and his effectiveness did, too. Actually, his demeanor on the mound is different. His intensity is much lower. If his intensity was where it was before, we would not be having this conversation. The lower velocity would have turned him into a good closer instead of an elite one. Hopefully his contract year will turn the flame up.

    • Remember, Kenley has heart rhythm issues, so I believe he is trying to remain cool and calm which, in my opinion, holds back his intensity. That is a permanent problem now and Andrew can not ignore it.

  5. The most important part of Roberts’ ststement was,”it’s up to him”. That sounds like Kenley pitches good enough to be closer or he doesn’t close. Im sure Freidman will bring in a couple guys who could close or pitch the late innings.

  6. So sick and tired of ROBERTS stating KENLEY is STILL our closer, WHAT does that mean ? ROBERTS must be somewhat hearing what DODGER FANS are saying about himself and good friend Jansen , JANSEN. should be put in when the game is in FAVOR of the DODGERS , not being a CLOSE game , then ROBERTS can bring in his so called closer Jansen and maybe JANSEN could possibly CLOSE the game after (1.) Getting past batters with a high pitch count (2.) Walking a couple of hitters (3.) Giving up consecutive hits then the…Finally… would be ….hard hit balls to end the game.DODGERS WIN !!! It took long enough !such drama ! JANSEN should go out while you still respected ,THANK YOU for the good years . ROBERTS ,not the front office

  7. Robert’s, not the front office should tell Jansen ,show some class he just doesn’t have it any longer ,THANK YOU JANSEN for the good years and the hard work you put in !!! Well appreciated.

  8. Roberts is a smooth operator. People think they just heard him say Jansen is the closer. What he actually said is that Jansen is not the closer unless he pitches like the Jansen of old. Roberts’ wise decision to be flexible with his bullpen during the 2020 playoffs played a large role in delivering a championship. I’d be shocked if he ever returned to the rigid mindset of “this guy is our closer no matter what.”

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