One of the most inconsistent pieces of the Dodgers’ team this year has certainly been the bullpen. The relief core gave up plenty of leads early in the season, and that was masked only by an extremely efficient offense. Kenley Jansen has not been an exception to that vulnerability by any means.
Jansen has pitched to a very below-average 3.59 earned run average in 2019, far worse than his 2018 season. He has given up 7 home runs in 47.2 innings of work and allowed opposing hitters to slug close to .400 on the year as well. It just never really feels like he’s locked in, aside from a few flashes of dominance throughout the year.
The entire organization and its fans recognize it is time for a change, and that looks to be happening. Jansen pitched just twice in the team’s most recent 6-road trip, and that may be the new norm.
Dave Roberts expressed the Dodgers’ desire to utilize Jansen once a series through Septemeber in hopes of getting him rested (and right) in time for playoffs. Jansen spoke with Mike DiGiovanna about his new role and where he felt he was best used.
“If Doc and I hadn’t come to an agreement, I wouldn’t have pitched on this last trip,” Jansen said. “I’ve got to keep pitching so I can find my rhythm.”
The plan seems to be to use Jansen in limited situations to have him prepared for anything when October rolls around. The good news is that Kenley recognizes that and seems to be on board.
“Yeah, it’s going to be weird…But you have to trick your mind, you know? When it comes to playoffs, there are going to be crazy situations. It’s not always about the saves. You have to be ready for anything.”
Jansen owns a career 2.08 era in the postseason with the Dodgers, compiling 16 saves across 12 different playoff series. Joe Kelly will likely take on more save opportunities in the meantime, given that he and Casey Sadler have been two of the most dominant Dodgers’ relievers.