The nine-month journey that the Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping will lead back to the World Series began this week as pitchers and catchers (and many position players) reported to Camelback Ranch for Spring Training.
After a successful offseason in which they acquired Mookie Betts and David Price, among others, the Dodgers are the heavy favorites to represent the National League in the 2020 Fall Classic.
While the new additions will certainly help, it will also fall on the returning players like Kenley Jansen getting back to their previous form if the Dodgers want to hoist the trophy in October.
Jansen is coming off the worst season of his career, posting a 3.71 ERA, 3.48 FIP and 1.06 WHIP with 80 strikeouts and 16 walks in 63 innings across 62 regular-season appearances while converting 33 of 41 save opportunities.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts’ confidence in Jansen seemed to waver in the postseason, as with six outs to go and a two-run lead to close out the Washington Nationals in the decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series, the closer was nowhere to be found.
In the last couple of seasons, Jansen has gotten off to slow starts in April and some of that was attributed to the organization slow-playing him during Spring Training. It appears that won’t be the case this year, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Dave Roberts said Kenley Jansen will be “more aggressive” in his throwing program this Spring than past Springs.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) February 14, 2020
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has already said that Jansen will be remain team’s closer in 2020, but with some other solid options onboard like Blake Treinen and Joe Kelly, the leash will likely be shorter than years past.
Some of Jansen’s struggles in the last two years can be attributed to a heart issue that forced him to undergo a second surgery last offseason. Now that he is another year removed from that and 100% healthy, the hope is that he can back to being his usual All-Star self in 2020.
An extended workload during the spring and recently visiting Driveline Baseball should certainly help him get the year off on the right foot as well.
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