The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the National League Division Series on a strong note, winning 14 of their last 20 games during the regular season to secure a sixth consecutive NL West division title.
But if there’s one player looking to reverse his fortune as of late, it’s closer Kenley Jansen. He struggled in the final days of September, yielding three home runs in his last four appearances — two of which were allowed to Colorado Rockies sluggers Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story in Monday’s Game 163 tiebreaker at Dodger Stadium.
While Jansen finds himself in the midst of another slump, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expects him to once again rise to the occasion in October. “My confidence level is high, and my expectation for him to pitch well in this big series is the same, as it has been the last three years,” Roberts said.
“He’s shown to perform on this stage, in this environment. And that’s what I’m going to pull from, his teammates are going to pull from, and I’m going to encourage him to pull from.
“So I know that Kenley is a very confident player, so I don’t think that it’s a concern of his, and it’s not mine either. But I think to your question, yeah, I’m going to talk to him and just confirm that he’s in a good head space, which I expect he is.”
While Roberts has maintained his trust in Jansen as the Dodgers’ closer, he admitted that the newly turned 31-year-old will likely be slated for a lesser workload this time around when compared to 2017.
“I would say that was pretty intense last year,” Roberts said. “I would take the under on the workload compared to last year. But like you said, every game is going to dictate. But I do like the guys that we have around him in the ‘pen. But to see him try to do what he did last year, unlikely.”
Over the course of three postseason series last year, Jansen logged a whopping 16.2 innings pitched for the Dodgers. Of his 13 appearances, five of them were multi-inning efforts.
All-in-all, Jansen posted a collective 1.62 ERA while recording five saves. He yielded all three of his runs in the World Series against the Houston Astros.
Jansen’s first appearance in the NLDS was a success as he allowed a single but nothing else to convert a save in Game 2 and give the Dodgers a commanding 2-0 series lead.