Bullpen depth was supposed to be the strength of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014 after the re-signings of Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell, and the signings of Jamey Wright and Chris Perez.
However, it’s been 26 games into the season and the bullpen leads the league in losses and closer Kenley Jansen has had to appear in 16 games. It’s not entirely the bullpen’s fault, as the starters have not gone deep into games and the offense has struggled to score runs, but it’s a little concerning that the relievers have had to throw the second-most innings this season.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times, Jansen doesn’t seem fazed by the early workload:
Donnie and Honeycutt, they always have my back, so I’m not worried at all,” Jansen said. “They’ve been doing a good job. I appreciate how they’ve been taking care of me.”
Jansen is currently on pace to appear in 100 games on the year, just six shy of the record set by Mike Marshall. Last season, Jansen was fourth in the league with 75 appearances and should be expected to throw around that much again. The catcher-turned-pitcher has already had to appear in a few games that became save situations after the previous reliever struggled to get outs. So many games this early in the season does not bode well for Jansen, as he will be expected to come into plenty of games later in the season when the stakes are much higher.
Don Mattingly and the Dodgers will need the starters to begin throwing deeper into games, in addition to the offense scoring some runs to put games out of reach in order to preserve their right-hander’s arm. The struggles of Wilson will also have to change, as he was expected to fill the closer’s role on days Jansen cannot pitch.