Four Burning Questions The Dodgers Face For The 2015 Season

Kenley Jansen

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1. Seriously, how bad is this Kenley Jansen thing? 

Kenley Jansen saved 44 games last season, blowing only four. After the All-Star break, he allowed only five runs over 26.2 IP, striking out 39 batters against seven walks while holding opposing hitters to a .186 average.

Less dominant than his 2013 campaign, but more than enough for Jansen’s presence to calm, rather than Brian Wilson. (Yes, it can be used as a verb.)

L.A.’s bullpen was already a source of scrutiny before Jansen went down for 8-12 weeks following foot surgery, and while he ought to be just fine in the long run, the prospect of a month-plus without his services has many fans understandably nervous.

Call me naive, but I’m not one of them. Sure, L.A.’s bullpen last year was awful, and in response, the Dodgers haven’t gone out and bulked up on big names. What they’ve done instead, is a reasonably good job of finding volume, from which they can throw things at the wall to see what sticks. Generally speaking, this is a better way to construct a pen because large financial investments in all but the best arms tend not to pay off.

Chris Hatcher, Adam Liberatore, Juan Nicasio, and Joel Peralta, are among the arms acquired this offseason, joining holdovers like J.P Howell. They just signed Dustin McGowan, who struggled in Toronto last year as a starter but was effective out of the bullpen. They’ll give Yimi Garcia a look. Paco Rodriguez and Pedro Baez are also around.

Are any of these relievers capable of closing? Hatcher misses a ton of bats, which is always a good quality in the ninth. Peralta has closed games, as have Brandon League (who was, at least for part of last season, pretty good), J.P. Howell, and even non-roster invitee David Aardsma. But that’s not the point.

Finding an everyday closer isn’t really necessary, because the title itself is overrated. It’s far more important the Dodgers get the type of stability they didn’t receive last year, particularly in the Chris Perez and Wilson roles, and Don Mattingly not be forced again to work Howell like a rented mule.

If that happens, they can happily figure out who pitches the ninth from night to night for a few weeks until Jansen returns. For what it’s worth, Jansen claims he’ll be back earlier than the expectation that was set.


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    1. Well, the line about him being “agitated” was more colorful originally, too… 🙂


  1. The problem with the assertion that the playoffs are more about the one-swing differential is that the Dodgers lost to the Cards mostly because of pitching and manufactured runs. They weren’t home run derbies, but the Cards put up strings of hits that helped them put runners in position and score runs. Yes, the increased defense will eliminate some of those, but Grandal, Kendrick, and Rollins are no slouches at the plate. I honestly believe this is going to be a team more about the manufactured runs/small ball. Less RISP, which KILLED the Dodgers last year.

    1. Fair. Point wasn’t that there’s no value in timely hitting or manufactured runs in the postseason, just that home runs become more valuable. Look at KC — not a power team by any stretch, but got HUGE home runs throughout. Same for SF. HR derby isn’t it. It’s more like one big HR… and that’s it. Statistically, at least, one-swing power has incredible value in the postseason.


      1. Totally agree that they ARE more valuable because they’re harder to get. I think a lot of focus this season will be on how to get Puig to stay out of his own way, Kershaw to not pressure himself so much, Kershaw to get a little more rest before the playoffs, and the bullpen to perform better. Bullpen and RISP were definitely killers last season, and with the moves made this year I think (well, i HOPE) there’s going to be less issue with that.

        No matter what, this is going to be a very exciting season. I’m stoked for all of the new faces and to see how everything unfolds!

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