While the Los Angeles Dodgers have been bit by the injury bug early this season, particularly in the outfield and pitching staff, the team has still managed a 24-13 record and 4.5-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the National League West division.
One of the key injuries the Dodgers were faced to overcome was the loss of their closer, Kenley Jansen, who missed the first six weeks of the season after undergoing surgery on his left foot in February.
Jansen was activated on May 15, and despite Dodgers manager Don Mattingly previously saying he would be eased into the closer’s role, he converted the first save of the season Sunday afternoon in just his second outing.
Jansen has retired every batter he’s faced in his two outings so far this season, including a rare four-strikeout inning. While he’s previously discussed getting acclimated to a Major-League mound, Jansen touched on the mental aspect of overcoming his foot surgery.
“I was talking to Stan [Conte], and I told myself that I’m not gonna think about it because if you’re gonna think about your foot then you might do something wrong with your delivery,” Jansen said. “And now you’re gonna cause your arm to get hurt. So that’s the one thing I was trying to do, is just go out there and if there’s something wrong with it, if it breaks or something like that happens, then it happens. I just go out there and don’t pay any attention to it and pitch.”
While the Dodgers bullpen has been good so far this season without Jansen, striking out a league-high 140 batters and yielding a 2.64 ERA, having their experienced closer at the backend of the bullpen takes pressure off of the young, inexperienced arms like Yimi Garcia and Adam Liberatore.
Both relievers have performed well up to this point in the season and exceeded expectations, but struggled also struggled a bit in the last week.