2019 NLDS: Dodgers Beginning Postseason Committed To Kenley Jansen As Closer
Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts speaks with Kenley Jansen during batting practice at Dodger Stadium
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

As Kenley Jansen continued to struggle through another season, the Los Angeles Dodgers resorted to adjusting their usage of the once-dominant closer. No longer would Jansen exclusively be kept in reserve for save opportunities, but he instead would pitch at least once per series.

The hope was for that to lend to improved mechanics and results. Jansen began to get on track but still experienced some stumbles in September. It prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to say he would be flexible with the closer role during the postseason if necessary.

However when discussing Jansen’s standing in the bullpen heading into the National League Division Series, Roberts made it clear there is not much thought being given to a possible change. “I don’t see that,” answered Roberts when asked if he could envision someone other than Jansen recording the final three outs of a game.

“I know Kenley is our closer. The goal is to get outs, and he understands that. I think the way he’s throwing the baseball, he’s shown that recently. For him to just stay focused and execute pitches, we’ll bet on the results. He’s done it, and I want him to have the ball at the end of the game.”

Beyond traditionally voicing support of his players, Roberts’ confidence in Jansen stems from a change in the right-hander’s ability to again ignore external factors.

“I think the outside voices, noise, distractions, were starting to bleed into his head: as far as sequencing, opinions on his performance,” Roberts said. “We got him back to eliminating that.

“Most of it was self-induced, to be honest with you. He’s got to get back to just pitching and worrying about executing pitches. That right there, I think he’s done that. If he continues, which I expect, the results will be there.”

The following day Jansen vowed he was “ready for October baseball.” Reaching the postseason has long been a talking point for the 32-year-old.

“Enjoy the moment,” he added. “Play like it’s your last. You never know when you’re going to be back here, so enjoy every single moment. I love this moment, all the pressure, everything.”