Simply put, Kenley Jansen isn’t the same as he was in years past.
Maybe it was the offseason heart surgery. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s over the age of 30 and his mojo is fading. Whatever the case may be, Jansen is on pace for his most ineffective year as a pitcher.
At the moment, Kenley’s ERA is sitting at 3.67, far and away the worst of his career. Last season, many felt he was on a downturn after enduring a few health scares in mid-season and extensive usage during the postseason.
Things got so bad for Jansen in Friday night’s 4-2 victory against the Nationals that he walked a run home—right in the middle of a critical save situation.
“He’s a guy that always had command, but after then he Eaton with that cut fastball and from that point on, he just couldn’t find it,” skipper Dave Roberts said in the postgame. “Tonight wasn’t a good night.”
However, Kenley and the Dodgers still found a way to secure the win—a theme that has stuck with the squad from the very beginning of its 2019 campaign.
Regardless of the Dodgers’ overall success, there’s still a bit of time for Kenley himself to get things straightened out. But, if the management crew of the Dodgers is banking on the fact that Jansen will conceivably return to his former self, the team may be in trouble by the time the playoffs roll around.
As far as internal alternatives go, Pedro Baez has been decent this year. Yet, like Jansen, it just feels like Pedro isn’t quite the same as he was in the first half of the season. Besides, while he could be considered an effective seventh or eighth inning arm, most would agree he’s far from being a premiere closer.
Seemingly, lefty Julio Urias has been the most effective of the entire Los Angeles relief crew as of late, but it’s almost unreasonable to put the burden of saving games in the postseason on the shoulders of a youngster who has never closed in his career and, more importantly, is rebounding from 2018 shoulder surgery.
Joe Kelly has been throwing well recently, and there’s a possibility that he keeps getting better as the stretch run of the regular season approaches. However, his ERA is this year is still well over 5.00 and his WHIP is above 1.50. Even if you look at his last 10 games, he still has allowed eight hits and two walks that have resulted in five runs, although just two of them have been ruled as earned.
Sadler, who was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay at the end of June, was warming when Jansen was fighting off a Washington rally in the bottom of the ninth on Friday night. With Baez and Kelly having already been used, the remaining options to rescue Kenley were not attractive to say the least.
As far as the latest trade rumors go, the Dodgers appear to be among the front-runners for Kansas City southpaw Jake Diekman. We took a close look at the lefty last week and deemed that he would not be a significant upgrade over what the team has right now.
Additionally, there have been increasing talks surrounding Mets starter Noah Syndergaard. While such an acquisition would be a huge upgrade to the Los Angeles rotation, it wouldn’t exactly solve the back-end bullpen dilemma, even if Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling are eventually shifted to the relief crew to help out.
If the Dodgers want to make a strong run deep into the postseason, Andrew Friedman and his troops need to make a statement with an exceptional upgrade—or two—to the squad’s existing relief corps. Of all the playoff campaigns over the last seven years, this 2019 version has the feel of having the best chance to bring home a long-awaited World Championship.
In some shape or form, how it all plays out may depend on what happens over the next several days.