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Dodgers: Which Version of Kenley Jansen Shows Up for LA in October?

Fans need that dominate force of 2017. Dave Roberts does too…



In a fair but equally unfair conversation, there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Dodgers and long-time closer Kenley Jansen. No doubt the start of his 2020 season was great. He earned the NL Reliever of the Month award on merit, not just the body of work.

But now a pair of really bad outings quickly brought back memories of Kenley past… the bad one.

Thoughts on the Subject

From 2010-2017, he was one of the best backend bullpen pieces in the game. But 2018 and 2019 became anxiety-riddled tight rope walks more often than not. At least it felt that way. By the end of the 2019 season, Jansen had lost nearly all confidence in himself, eventually leading to Dave Roberts to keep him on the bench in the most crucial game of the postseason — the one that ultimately became their final game of the season — until it was too late.

Flashing back to now, while he has rebounded nicely since his rocky start to September, there’s still that hesitation in the back of the minds of fans. Where do you stand? Should the Dodgers run him out there the way they have in the past, or should there be an updated plan for the club’s all-time saves leader?

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Podcast: Dodgers Gearing up for October, a Wild Wild Card, BH Grab Bag

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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  1. Given the lack of ability of Kenley Jansen to deal with baserunners, combined the new rule that puts a baserunner on second base to start every half-inning after the ninth, a manager would be crazy to use him in extra innings EVER. A man on 2nd would soon be a man on third and ready to score. It might be better to use him in middle relief, or even as a starter in a bullpen day.

  2. I think Turner should be the designated hitter, and Jansen should be the designated spectator.

  3. That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?. And neither Kelly nor Treinen is looking very stable right now. I guess it becomes academic as long as we have a five run lead (or more) after 8. If Betts, Seager, Turner, Bellinger, Muncy, Pollock and Smith homer every game, we’re good.

  4. I can’t think of that word, where you say one thing and do another. Anyway, Superstars come and go, they look great to start, then they kinda taper off for one reason or another( I can think of a few) then they recoup and they become their old self again. That goes with all players, it happens. I still go with Jansen. And yes, if there’s a runner on Jansen gets a little shakey, what pitcher doesn’t? They need to concentrate on the batter. So you guys would rather go with Wood? It’s going to fluctuate, good one day, not so good the next, great job one or two days, then not that great. No one is perfect if you are, you’re a Robot.

  5. I agree Kenley should not pitch w a runner on base. But I would use him as a closer to start a clean inning and I would have someone else ready if he looks shaky after 3 batters. Very short lease, and he shoukd know it. There should be no reason to baby him or worry about his feelings, a closer needs to be tough as nails!

    • Well stated. Clean inning only with a short leash and if this silly free base runner in extras follows us into the post season (Kershaw: “It’s not real baseball.”), then Jansen should be given an Uber voucher and sent home after the ninth inning to remove all temptation for Roberts.

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