The Los Angeles Dodgers were clinging to a 1-0 lead over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night when Kenley Jansen entered in the ninth inning for his first save opportunity since Aug. 9.
Unfortunately, as has been the case a handful of times this season, the one-run lead was not enough as Jansen allowed a game-tying home run to Rowdy Tellez with one out. The blown save was Jansen’s sixth in 32 opportunities this season.
With a little over a month until the start of the postseason, the closer spot is a legitimate concern for a Dodgers team that has World Series aspirations.
However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did not seem all that worried after the game, as he again voiced confidence in Jansen. “I thought he was good. I just felt he had a chance to throw a slider down below and went to the well one too many times,” Roberts explained.
“Actually, it wasn’t a bad pitch. But when you give a guy with power multiple looks in the same quadrant, it decreases your margin. I know Kenley feels bad, but he got a punch and some soft contact. Unfortunately, he couldn’t put up a zero.”
Jansen’s six blown save are most among closers this season. Though, the Dodgers aren’t on the verge of undergoing a changing of the guard. “I think the last few outings have been pretty solid for Kenley. If a save situation arises, he’ll be back out there,” Roberts said.
“It’s good to have options, but right now Kenley is our closer. Joe and Petey are going to pitch in plenty of leverage situations, but right now I still think Kenley is tracking in a positive direction, regardless of the outcome.”
Jansen is a three-time All-Star and has been one of the best closers in baseball since taking over the role for the Dodgers in 2012. But it’s easy to see that he hasn’t quite looked like his usual self this season, and the longball has been a big reason for that.
Jansen has already allowed eight homers in 48.2 innings pitched. Though, the 1.48 home runs per nine innings is a slightly lower rate than his the 1.6 mark he posted it 2018, which is his career-high.
Overall, Jansen has pitched to a 3.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP with 64 strikeouts and 11 walks this season. The club has committed to pitching him more regularly, even if it means sacrificing potential save opportunities.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently said Jansen has been working through some mechanical issues and also voiced confidence he can return to being elite if he can figure those out. While the Dodgers will continue to remain patient, they are running out of time before they have to make some big decisions in regards to how their bullpen will be aligned in October.
Jansen’s latest blown save ultimately did not cost the Dodgers as they wound up winning 2-1 in 10 innings on a walk-off home run by Max Muncy.