Dodgers News: Kenley Jansen Was Comfortable With Postseason Role Despite Perceived Uncertainty
Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers suffered a shocking 7-3 loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, marking the end of a magical 2019 season filled with many records and accolades.

The club entered the winner-take-all matchup with plenty of optimism on their side. Walker Buehler, dominant in a Game 1 victory over the Nationals at Dodger Stadium, replicated those results with 6.2 innings of one-run ball.

Clayton Kershaw was tasked with recording the final out of the seventh and struck out Adam Eaton on three pitches — successfully working out of the jam he inherited. The left-hander returned to the mound in the eighth, where momentum ultimately swung in favor of the Nationals.

Back-to-back home runs by Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto allowed Washington to pull even with L.A. at three runs apiece. Kershaw was removed in favor of Kenta Maeda, who promptly struck out the side and prevented any further damage from happening.

It was at this point Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly began warming up for the ninth inning. The latter ended up getting the call and retired all three batters faced, giving the Dodgers an opportunity to walk it off in the ninth — something they did 12 times during the regular season.

L.A. was held in check by Daniel Hudson, and thus, Game 5 extended to a 10th inning. In a questionable decision by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Kelly returned to the mound against the heart of the Nationals lineup.

After loading the bases without recording an out, Howie Kendrick came through with a series-winning grand slam. Kelly faced two more batters before being supplanted by Jansen, who needed all of six pitches to accumulate two outs.

“My role always is when I get in the playoffs, it doesn’t matter if it’s a save situation,” answered Jansen when asked if he was comfortable with some of the uncertainty surrounding his role in October.

“That’s how we’ve done it the last three years. Sometimes I come in earlier, anything happens in the postseason. You’ve just got to be ready when your name is called. Sometimes the best situation is for me to pitch in the seventh, sometimes it’s the eighth, sometimes it’s the ninth.

“I was ready for all of them. It’s tough, because thinking about it, you’re supposed to still be playing. You don’t know what to do right now; it’s a shocking moment. It’s not how we planned it.”

Roberts’ decision to send Kelly to the mound in the 10th inning was met with plenty of criticism, as Jansen had been warm and ready to go. “You can’t look back and think, ‘What if?'” Jansen said of not entering the game sooner.

“That’s how this game is. One thing that I know is we gave everything we have. This whole year we battled.”

Despite being mired by inconsistencies for most of the regular season, Jansen enjoyed a fairly successful month of September and looked solid in his previous appearance against the Nationals.

He retired all five batters faced during the 2019 NLDS, striking out two of them across two games. Though neither situation Jansen pitched in was a save opportunity.