The Whole Kenley Jansen Thing

While there are numerous factors which have contributed to the substandard performance of the Dodgers during the first three weeks of the season, none appear to be more disconcerting than the effectiveness of team closer Kenley Jansen.

Injuries can heal in time. Offenses can catch on fire. But when nobody can figure out why Jansen’s cutter isn’t working properly, there may be reasons for concern.

It could be a mental approach. Or maybe it’s an issue with his throwing mechanics. Or, heaven forbid, there’s some kind of injury which is affecting the way he throws.

“Today, I missed location and I missed by a lot,” Jansen said after the team’s 7-3 victory over the Padres late Tuesday evening. “I just have to find it and be consistent and I will be fine. But to Hosmer, that ball was down the middle. He got me.”

It was Jansen’s second blown save in four appearances, after having just one blown save in 42 chances last year. He was lucky not to get pinned with the loss thanks to a sensational, game-saving catch by center fielder Chris Taylor.

So far this year, Jansen has appeared in seven contests and has registered a whopping 8.10 ERA and a 1.650 WHIP over 6-2/3 innings thrown. He has already issued three walks after allowing just seven over the entirety of last season.

While there were occasions when he did miss location last year, he didn’t miss by much. He threw 68-1/3 innings over 65 appearances while posting a ridiculous 1.32 ERA and a 0.746 WHIP with 109 strikeouts. Last season his K/9 calculated to 14.4. At the present juncture, it’s sitting at 9.5—not horrible, but nowhere near the standards he has set in the past. Prior to this year, Jansen has never posted a season K/9 less than 13.0.

“It boils down to he is not executing like he normally does. I can’t speak to if it is mechanic, all I can tell you is what I see with my eyes. And his cutter is not doing what it used to do,” skipper Dave Roberts said in the post-game press conference.

Yet, while there have been some truly ugly moments for No. 74, there have also been a few impressive outings, which suggest that the problem is most likely not injury related. He struck out the side in impressive fashion while recording the save against the Giants on April 8. Additionally, he threw a perfect ninth frame against Oakland two days later to secure his second save of the year.

In the same breath, he took the loss after allowing a home run to Joe Panik on March 30 and got pounded by the Diamondbacks just three days later.

If it’s a long-term problem, the Dodgers don’t have an overwhelming number of arms which can step in and fill a prospective void. There are a few options—JT Chargois, Pedro Baez and Josh Fields, to name a few—however, neither of the three can match the potency of Jansen when he has his best stuff.

On a positive note, the offense, which has been less than desirable for the early part of the year, bailed out Jansen after Yasmani Grandal‘s double powered a four-run twelfth inning rally. The victory sealed the Dodgers first three-game winning streak of the young season; but the road to the playoffs could be a difficult one without the success of Jansen.

“I have confidence in myself that I will find it, it’s just a matter of time,” Jansen added after the game. “Hopefully I can get an opportunity tomorrow, because tonight, that’s not who I am.”

 

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Dodgers Roster: First Week Pitching Performance Evaluations

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(Mandatory Credit: Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

It’s been a happy, yet rough week for the Dodgers. On Thursday, Clayton Kershaw tossed the first pitch to Yasmani Grandal, marking the official commencement of the 2018 season. Since then, we have seen some remarkable pitching performances, as well as some we wish could be erased, or redone.

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Dodgers Bullpen: Why Ross Stripling Is Ready to ​Step-Up in 2018

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(Mandatory Credit: Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press)

In the Oscar-nominated baseball movie from 2011, Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill brought the historic tale of the 2002 Oakland Athletics to life. Moneyball is about a small market team finding overlooked players that were able to rival the nearly $200M payroll of the New York Yankees.

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Dodgers 2018 Bullpen: Making a Case for J.T. Chargois

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With well over 60 players on the big league side of the Dodgers‘ spring camp, there are bound to be a few stories which surface regarding some of the club’s talent that’s flying completely under the radar.

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Digging Deeper into the Dodgers’ Minor League Bullpen Depth

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(Mandatory Credit: Jerry Espinoza)

In case you missed it earlier in the week, on Tuesday we put together a concise profile surrounding righty reliever Shea Spitzbarth, and offered up a bit of insight as to what may be in store for the 23-year old in 2018. Along those same lines, we thought it would be worth mentioning a few other pitchers who will likely provide quality relief on the farm this year, and briefly discuss how exactly they may fit into the landscape of the organization.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: Shea Spitzbarth Still Rising

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Over the winter, the big league bullpen of the Dodgers has been one of the few areas of the roster which has been receiving a high amount of scrutiny. Aside from All-World closer Kenley Jansen, many of the roles are still undefined, as everyone will be jockeying for key spots during Cactus League play and the first few weeks of the regular season.

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Dodgers 2018 Bullpen: Exploring Several Potential Eighth-Inning Relief Options

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Many media outlets who cover the Dodgers have been spending quite a bit of time this winter discussing the components of the prospective 2018 bullpen, and we are no exception. For the most part, the group who will make up this season’s relief corp is defined, but which roles each pitcher will ultimately assume—sans Kenley Jansen—may take some time to develop. Last season, after a few years of searching, the club’s quest to find a quality eighth-inning arm was finally fulfilled when righty Brandon Morrow eventually settled into the part; however, that exact pursuit will begin anew when players begin reporting to spring training next month.

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Dodgers 2018 Roster: Piecing Together a Functional Bullpen

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Although the impending 25-man roster of the Dodgers promises to be one of the most well-rounded squads in the big leagues, many followers of the club believe there are still a few minor holes which need to be addressed before the beginning of the regular season. The starting rotation is solid, yet the perennial concern of not having a true No. 2 starter is still a popular discussion topic among fans. Add to the chatter the lack of quality depth beyond the first five starting pitchers, and the worries surrounding the rotation may actually be somewhat valid. Furthermore, many believe the team still has needs in the bullpen, as the search for a legitimate eighth-inning arm will once again recommence when pitchers and catchers report next month.

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Dodgers Prospect Watch: A Quick Look at Righty Reliever Zach Pop

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It’s not very often you hear about a youngster in the Dodgers system who straightaway has the talent to succeed in the back-end of a minor league bullpen. More times than not, the Los Angeles management crew breeds most of its young arms as starters, then eventually converts them to relievers when a suitable door opens. However, there is one certain prospect in the organization, righty reliever Zach Pop, who may have the natural talent to climb the organizational ladder through the relief corps.

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Dodgers 2018 Roster: Is Brock Stewart a Better Fit as a Starter or Reliever?

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While there are plenty of question marks surrounding the impending relief crew for the Dodgers heading into 2018, there are many options for the club to consider for the bullpen as the season approaches. A handful of arms who can contribute as either a starter or a reliever could play into the team’s roster plans, and Brock Stewart is certainly right at the top of that list.

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