Kenley Jansen got hit literally and figuratively in last night’s game, and ended up blowing the save. The Dodgers, down 6-1 at one point, had battled back to make it an 8-6 game going into the ninth inning. Jansen was hit with a comebacker, and ended up giving up a walk-off hit to Bryce Harper.
After the game, Jansen said that he should have been taken out of the game, but his pride and ego didn’t allow that. He described his night like this to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group –
“It definitely felt numb. It didn’t feel great,” Jansen said later after limping to his locker. “Then the second pitch to (Cesar) Hernandez I couldn’t push no more. It was just pain.
“If I look back, I probably would have come out of the game. But I’m not going to take myself out of the game. It didn’t help us. I couldn’t even push anymore. I couldn’t even go (toward) home. It was all arm.
“I just told him ‘It hurts but I’m good. Let’s go,’” Jansen said of the visit from Roberts. “Listen … I’m not a quitter. Even if it hurts, I’m still going to go out there and compete. But I should have been a little smarter myself and be honest with myself and come out of the game. I take the blame on myself.
I’m not an excuse guy. But I shouldn’t keep pitching. … I should have come out of the game.”
In June, I wrote a column saying the Dodgers should sign a second closer to go along with Kenley. I’m not going to go so far as to say that Jansen isn’t elite anymore, because he’s third in the National League in saves, and no one seems to be elite lately with the uptick in homers. Even Josh Hader gets hit around every now and then. Kenley is definitely a victim of his own success, as he was downright dominant before.
But he, and the front office, need to recognize this before the trade deadline, and the playoffs. Kenley himself needs to do a better job of recognizing when he doesn’t have it. That’s a huge ask, I understand. But after losing the last two World Series, what is best for the team is what has to happen. I stand by the thought that the Dodgers need to go all in, and get that second, dominating arm. No one seemingly has a great bullpen staff, but to win it all, the Dodgers should have the best of those who make the playoffs.
There has been rumblings of Julio Urias filling that role of lefty arm towards the end of the game. The Dodgers do hate to part with prospects, so an in-house option seems like a good idea. But Urias is a starter, and I’m always wary of using an arm like that, even if he’s been being used as a long reliever all season.
The Dodgers need a bullpen arm, and that’s it. You can argue all day about what players are playing which positions, and whether some are suited better for one position or another. I have a feeling that that will work itself out by October. But to borrow the adage of the NFL that ‘Defense Wins Championships’, bullpens win championships for the MLB. Let’s get it done, Friedman and Co.