The Los Angeles Dodgers have started 2019 on the right foot, especially at the plate. However, one of the team’s biggest weakness thus far has been its bullpen. That includes recent free-agent signing Joe Kelly, but also closer Kenley Jansen.
Jansen has recorded eight saves in 12 appearances thus far but recently struggled and allowed a home run in three of his last six save opportunities. His ERA has climbed to 3.07, which would be a career high if it held throughout the season.
Jansen also gave a game-tying three-run home run to Eric Thames during the Dodgers’ recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was Jansen’s first blown save of the season, but he was bailed out when Cody Bellinger hit an eventual game-winning home run over fellow star reliever Josh Hader. After the game, Jansen refuted the notion that he was struggling.
He’s expanded on that and maintained nothing is seriously wrong with him in any aspect, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“Best I’ve felt (physically) in a while. Confidence is good. Mechanics feel great,” he said, going through it as a checklist. “I’m looking at some tape and I’m aware what (hitters) are looking for from me. Now, I’m aware of where I have to go now to set them up.”
Jansen had an uncharacteristic down year in 2018, posting a 3.01 ERA and allowing 13 home runs, both of wich career highs. He still made the National League All-Star team for the third year in a row, but also landed on the injured list after a late-season trip to Colorado triggered a heart condition that Jansen struggled with.
Jansen blamed his 2018 struggles in part to the Dodgers’ decision to limit him in Spring Training that year, which he claims left him rusty. He also admitted a looming heart surgery put a dark cloud over the remainder of last season.
Jansen had a much more regular workload this past spring and started the season well before his recent string of rough outings.