It’s tough to watch Kenley Jansen struggle like he has this postseason. Dodgers fans know just how good he can be when he’s on, and that he can be the difference-maker in the playoffs.. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really been that for a few years.
After his meltdown against the Padres in the Division Series, the Dodgers sort of eased off of using him. Until tonight, he hadn’t pitched in an entire week. But Dave Roberts did something with Kenley that he has never done before, and it had the sports world buzzing. Up 14 runs in the 6th inning, Jansen got to pitch. When asked about that move, Doc just said that he wanted to get him a chance to work things out.
Kenley and I are great, we’ve always been great. I was really pleased with the way he threw the baseball…Just to give him an opportunity to pitch as he has been working through some delivery stuff and to see how it plays to major league hitters. That’s beneficial for everyone. So I was just really happy with the outing.
Kenley came in and induced 3 quick outs on 10 pitches. To say that it’s been a rollercoaster for Jansen and the Dodgers would be fair. Just a few days ago, Roberts admitted that the team would do whatever it needed to win. While he didn’t say that meant taking him out of the closer role, it sure felt like it.
I understand, and I’m very sensitive to what he has accomplished on the baseball field as a closer, as a premium All-Star. But we also have to look at real-time and do what’s best for the Dodgers, and he understands that. When he gets the baseball, I’m going to expect him to get those outs. And he expects the same.
Just because Kenley got mop-up duty on Wednesday doesn’t mean that his role as closer for the Dodgers is dead and gone. Still, Roberts bringing him in that position during playoffs is telling. We’ll have to see how it plays out over the next few days with Jansen in the 9th inning.