Throughout the season the Los Angeles Dodgers stuck to a unique formula of heavily relying on their bullpen to offset a patched-together starting rotation. However, while manager Dave Roberts shuffled the deck with his relievers, Kenley Jansen’s role remained unchanged.
Of Jansen’s 47 saves, five required him to pitch more than one inning. Such was the case against the Washington Nationals in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. With the Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead, Jansen entered with one out in the eighth inning.
He retired the two batters faced, and logged a plate appearance with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth, before returning back to the mound.
Jansen shut the door on the Nationals to complete his first five-out save since April 13 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. “Right now I’m just prepared for six (outs),” Jansen said after the Dodgers’ 4-3 victory.
“I mean, to me, I train myself the whole year, running outside and trusting all the work that me and Brandon (McDaniel, strength and conditioning coach) been doing in the weight room and all that stuff. Just to me, I really don’t think it’s affecting me. I just make sure how can I prepare myself the most and be ready for the next game. To me, I don’t let stuff like that bother me at all.”
That training and preparation played a part in Jansen having arguably the best season of his career. He was selected to his first All-Star Game and led all relievers (minimum 60 innings) with a 0.67 WHIP. Jansen’s 104 strikeouts ranked fifth under the same criteria.
While he generally has been exempt from the criticism the Dodgers’ bullpen faced over recent seasons, Jansen has never attempted to separate himself from the group. He defended the bullpen throughout the season and did so again Friday.
“All these guys we have, man, it’s a great group of guys we have this year. We are all together and it’s one group and that’s why we feel like this whole year, you know, when starters go five, we never complain about it,” Jansen said.
“We just go out there and do the job. We know it’s going to come down to us to keep this team carried to go farther and farther.”