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.
Dodgers FanFest 2015