A season Kenley Jansen deemed the most challenging of his career ended with the closer not appearing in a leverage situation during the Los Angeles Dodgers’ decisive Game 5 loss to the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series.
It marked the first time since 2015 that the Dodgers were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, when they lost a Game 5 at Dodger Stadium to the New York Mets.
Jansen, whose usage was adjusted in effort to mitigate his trouble with command and velocity, pitched in Games 3 and 5 against the Nationals. He had two strikeouts and retired all five batters faced.
Although Jansen was not summoned out of the bullpen until after Joe Kelly surrendered a backbreaking grand slam to Howie Kendrick, he maintained there was not any frustration with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
“I’m always on the same page with Doc. This game is a ‘What if’ game. You can’t question everything,” Jansen said Tuesday. He made his remarks after unveiling second and third versions of “Kenley’s Lockers” for pediatric patients at the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.
“If they would’ve put me in earlier and something would’ve happened, there’s always a what if? Like I said, I’m ready to go any time,” Jansen added.
“But understanding he wanted to lengthen that game, he wanted to go one more inning with Joe and from there go two or three innings with me. It didn’t work out. We win together, we lose together.”
An open line of communication between Jansen and Roberts helped facilitate change as the Dodgers committed to using the 32-year-old on a regular basis rather than exclusively in save situations.
Although Roberts was the subject of intense criticism after the Dodgers were eliminated, Jansen joined the chorus of support from within the organization. “Let me tell you, as long as I can keep playing this game, I want Doc to be my manager,” he said.
“That’s how awesome he is. A great man, energetic, positive mindset. What he built in the clubhouse, it wasn’t like this before he came here. This is more of a team now. Everybody is united, and it’s because he did that. Doc built this. It’s one team. It’s not about one player. We all buy into that and try to win a championship.”
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