Dodgers News: Kenley Jansen Sees Mental Toughness In Resurgent Bullpen
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Even when the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense has gone quiet and been inconsistent, the bullpen has largely remained the punching bag. Outside of Kenley Jansen, Dodgers’ relievers have struggled and been a significant source of frustration.

Jansen was his usual self out of the gate this season, while some of his peers endured their share of lumps. Even Jansen proved to be human last weekend against the San Diego Padres, blowing consecutive save opportunities.

However, he and the rest of the relievers rebounded and kept the Dodgers alive in a 17-inning marathon of a game. Clayton Kershaw provided the bullpen with a night of rest on Monday, then the group combined to retire all 19 batters faced over 6.1 innings in the final two games against the Cincinnati Reds.

Moreover, they’ve allowed just two runs over the past 23 innings. “I think we’ve gotten mentally tougher,” Jansen said after earning a save on Wednesday night.

“You saw it on Sunday when we played 17 innings. That showed us everything. To shut this series down was great.” Dodgers relievers, and the entire pitching staff for that matter, now face a more formidable challenge on the seven-game road trip.

It begins with the New York Mets on Friday night for a three-game series, then shifts to Chicago for four against the Cubs. Los Angeles is one off-day removed — albeit spent traveling across country — from concluding a stretch of 20 games in 20 days that Jansen referred to as “awful.”

“I love baseball, but with all the traveling and everything, it’s not healthy for players,” he said of the grueling stretch. Jansen was nonetheless pleased to have reached the finish line with a victory that gave the Dodgers a season-high four-game winning streak.

“I feel like we had a tough couple of weeks. Right now, I’m glad we went through it,” he said. “Hopefully we can get hot and keep going.” The Dodgers’ bullpen ranks 12th in the Majors with a 3.52 ERA, and fifth overall with an opponents’ .615 on-base plus slugging percentage.