Coming into Spring Training, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ bullpen figured to be a point of focus given its struggles last season and the new faces that were added. However, before Spring Training began, the bullpen became a story for the wrong reason.
Two days prior to pitchers and catchers reporting, the Dodgers announced Kenley Jansen would miss 8-12 weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a growth on a bone in his left foot. While Jansen had the surgery one week after feeling discomfort, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman some thought was given to letting him pitch with the injury, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register:
#Dodgers Friedman said KJansen pitching thru foot injury was considered. But risk of "stress reaction" and longer in-season absence too much
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) February 19, 2015
The risk of letting Jansen pitch with a bone growth is the possibility of him developing a stress fracture, which can take 10-14 weeks to heal. Although letting Jansen pitch through the injury could have had short-term benefits, the risk simply wasn’t worth it for the Dodgers — a team with aspirations of winning a World Series.
Jansen tied for fifth in the MLB last season with 44 saves, though he struggled in the first half of last year. Somewhat as a result of that, he posted a 3.49 ERA and .243 batting average against, both of which are not ideal averages for a closer.
Once Jansen seemingly turned his season around, he allowed only five runs in 26.2 innings with a 1.69 ERA and .186 batting average against. The second-half production is what the Dodgers’ were hoping for after Jansen’s 2013 season where he had an ERA of 1.88 in 76.2 innings.
Without Jansen for the time being, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he’s going to rely on matchups in late innings rather than attempting to find a temporary closer. That being said, Friedman admitted Thursday the club was engaged in trade talks focused on acquiring a reliever.
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