Just a day after Dave Roberts gave Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen the ever-important vote of confidence, Los Angeles is thinking about tinkering with their relievers. Namely, the closer spot is in consideration for some experimentation in the final stretch of the regular season.
While this may come as a surprise to fans, J.P. Hoornstra in the OC Register writes that the Dodgers are willing to ‘break convention’ in the back-end of the bullpen.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) August 12, 2019
Equally important is the most prominent member of the bullpen being on-board with the Dodgers’ plan going forward. Indeed, Roberts says that Jansen is aware of what will take place.
“We had a great conversation (Saturday) night, actually,” Roberts said of Jansen. “The most important thing is to get him consistent work which … will allow for more consistency on the field performance-wise. There are certain save opportunities that might be compromised. But it’s still a benefit for the ball club and him to get consistent work.”
Now, this really is some startling news. While it isn’t Joe Kelly or Pedro Baez getting save opportunities just yet, their names are being mentioned about for getting an opportunity in a high-leverage situation at the end of a game.
Roberts continued on by mentioning the two set-up men as possible interchangeable parts for Jansen.
“You also have two guys in Joe Kelly and Pedro Baez throwing the baseball well also. Kenley’s on board with that.”
Anyone who has followed closely knows that if the team is willfully mentioning this, it’s probable you’re going to see it play out between the white lines. Still, it sounds like match-up based data will dictate who gets the ball and when.
“The optimal perfect matchup isn’t always possible, and it doesn’t always lead to success anyway,” Roberts said, “but I still think with the guys we have, we can put them in optimal spots.”
Such is life with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the soap opera of the bullpen in 2019. While it’s hard to imagine anyone but Jansen getting the final three outs in a playoff game, you never know what might happen with so many jobs and other factors on the line in a big spot.
The Dodgers are trying to hedge their bets the best they can with the biggest moment fast approaching. What that moment looks like is a mystery to all for everyone, for now. However, this is all you can ask for. Like any other spot, the team should be willing to go to anyone to accomplish the ultimate goal.