Just 7 games into the season and the great closer debate is back among Dodgers fans. And perhaps rightfully so after Kenley Jansen blew his first save of the season in Oakland on Wednesday afternoon.
Kenley came in protecting a 1-run lead and got himself into trouble. After a leadoff single, he walked the runner over to second base. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over and Matt Chapman scored on a sacrifice fly. The Dodgers and A’s went to extras as a result.
To be fair, the blame isn’t entirely on Kenley. Dodgers fans know better than anyone that he should not be used on back-to-back days, and Doc went with him again on Wednesday. That’s just one day after he didn’t look very sharp in locking down a save the night before.
The Dodgers offense also did not come through most of the game. They left 13 runners on base in the first 9 innings alone and couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position. Still, it’s hard to ignore it when Kenley doesn’t perform.
The biggest question seems to be when Dave Roberts will pivot away from the traditional closer role. Kenley can still be very good but probably doesn’t need to be slotted into every save opportunity. There are simply too many good arms in the Dodgers bullpen to justify that sort of stress.
You can bet this will be heated debate throughout the course of the season as Jansen plays the final year of his contract with the Dodgers.