Kenley Jansen suffered his latest stumble on Wednesday night, allowing a game-tying home run to Rowdy Tellez and blowing his sixth save of the season. It ultimately didn’t cost the Los Angeles Dodgers, as Max Muncy delivered a walk-off home run in the 10th inning.
The save opportunity was Jansen’s first since Aug. 9 against the Arizona Diamondbacks, when he surrendered a two-run home run that also tied the game. The Diamondbacks went on to defeat the Dodgers in extra innings.
Jansen was jeered as he completed the ninth inning on Wednesday and booed by the Dodger Stadium crowd upon walking off the field. It was the type of treatment that previously embattled relief pitcher Pedro Baez received from Dodgers fans, which prompted Jansen to come to his defense.
Now drawing the ire of the fanbase himself, Jansen vowed to win them back, according to David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports:
Kenley Jansen told me he still loves all the Dodgers fans and also added he will win them back to the “Kenley Jansen bandwagon…Boo me on the way in and I’ll have you cheering for me after the game.” #Dodgers
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) August 22, 2019
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reasoned Jansen’s appearance against the Blue Jays was primarily comprised of quality pitches. The home run, Roberts reasoned, was a result of Jansen going “to the well one too many times” with his cutter.
As the patented pitch has lacked consistent movement and therefore become less effective than throughout his career, Jansen has faced a need to evolve and become more diverse with his sequencing. Roberts likened the situation to a transition Clayton Kershaw has gone through.
Jansen’s shown a willingness to do so at times but not with the level of consistency that appears necessary. The Dodgers are also attempting to aid Jansen’s effort in righting the ship by committing to a plan that will have him pitch more regularly.
Rather than exclusively hold hm for potential save opportunities, the Dodgers intend to have Jansen make at least one appearance in every series to close out the regular season. Even as there may still be bumps along the way, the Dodgers remain committed to Jansen in the closer role.
“It’s good to have options, but right now Kenley is our closer. Joe and Petey are going to pitch in plenty of leverage situations, but right now I still think Kenley is tracking in a positive direction, regardless of the outcome,” Roberts said.