Over the years, Kenley Jansen has established himself as one of the most dominant relievers in the National League. And while his impressive track record with the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks for itself, he hasn’t been able to replicate that kind of success this season.
As of Monday, Jansen is sporting a career-worst 3.74 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched and 45 appearances. His 3.50 FIP, 1.07 WHIP and seven home runs allowed all represent the second-worst marks of his career.
Jansen attributed some of his struggles this season to not pitching as often as he would like to. He believes receiving consistent opportunities is vital to success.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts agreed with Jansen on this theory. “In talking to Kenley, we had a great conversation, the most important thing is to get him consistent work, which in our belief will allow for more consistency on the field performance-wise,” Roberts said.
“So, there are certain save opportunities that might be compromised, but it’s still a benefit for the ballclub and him to get that consistent work. And you also have two guys in Joe Kelly and Pedro throwing the baseball well.
“Kenley is on board with that. To have him not pitch five or six days in a row, we’re going to do everything we can to stay away from that.”
As Roberts alluded to, Jansen will receive more opportunities going forward, even if it comes at the expense of a future save opportunity. That was especially evident this past weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
After blowing a save in Friday’s opener, Jansen returned to the mound the very next night in a non-save situation. He allowed a single in what was a scoreless inning of work, helping the Dodgers close out a 4-0 victory.
As a result of pitching on back-to-back days, Jansen was deemed unavailable for Sunday’s finale — even in the event of a save opportunity.
“It is a luxury and it’s always a tougher dynamic when you’re talking about a closer, because you want that guy available in a save situation,” Roberts said.
“But when you have other guys that can support him, it certainly makes my life considerably easier. It’s important Kenley understands and buys into that, too.”
Despite his recent struggles, Roberts is confident that Jansen will bounce back in due time and return to his usual form. “Do I have any concerns? No,” Roberts said.
“I know he’s working through some things and he’s a guy I know for us to win 11 games in October, we need him. I know he’ll get there, so we’re going to continue to run him out there. He’s done it many times over.”