As pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training last week, the Los Angeles Dodgers received a bit of bad news ahead of the new season with word closer Kenley Jansen is expected to miss anywhere from 8-12 weeks after undergoing foot surgery.
Jansen was one of the few reliable options in the Dodgers bullpen last season and came up big with 44 saves. With this setback, the reliever on the roster with the most experience as a closer is Brandon League.
Additionally, the Dodgers have other options on the roster, though not as experienced, or they could look to an external solution such as, Francisco Rodriguez or Rafael Soriano. J.P. Howell recently shared some of his thoughts on how he believes president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman will address situation, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News:
He’s going to do research and he’s going to make an educated decision,” Howell said. “That’s something I’ve learned from him. He’s not going to go off emotion. He’s going to do his homework. He’s going to go with what he feels is best. Usually he’s pretty on point with that.”
Howell certainly has some additional level of insight on Friedman’s thought processes and operations given their days together with the Tampa Bay Rays organization after Friedman traded for left-hander in 2006.
Prior to news of Jansen’s injury, the Dodgers added a handful of relief pitchers — on both Minor League and Major League deals — though none appear to be a clear option to replace Jansen for the time being.
Most recently, the club signed Dustin McGowan, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays and a starter turned reliever after eight starts in 2014. Whether it’s Howell, McGowan, or another reliever, manager Don Mattingly indicated he’ll rely on matchups late in games during Jansen’s absence.
Howell was one of the relievers who managed to survive the bullpen makeover during the season, but he too struggled at points during the year — particularly down the stretch. Fortunately for the Dodgers, they’ll have the next six weeks to find a reliever or group of relief pitchers who will be relied more heavily relied on while Jansen recovers.
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