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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Old, New, Blue and Ryu: The Dodgers’ Over-30 Pitchers

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(Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys/USA TODAY Sports)

(Editor’s note: TBPC would like to welcome Ben Kirst to the site’s writing team. Despite spending most of his life in Western New York, Ben is a lifelong fan of the Dodgers, and his writing experience has included coverage of the Buffalo Bills and Sabres, Canisius College hockey, University at Buffalo basketball and various D-3/high school sports. He managed, edited and wrote for Buffalo.com for seven years. He also contributed to USCHO.com for three years and The Dunkirk (N.Y.) Observer for another four. Hopefully, Ben will tolerate all of our antics here at TBPC and continue to contribute many insightful articles in the future. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter @BK77.)

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Kenley Jansen Still Campaigning for Matt Kemp

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Kenley Jansen, closer extraordinaire for the Los Angeles Dodgers, has taken to the campaign trail once again, this time showing support for outfielder Matt Kemp.

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

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(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

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: Let’s Start Building a Bullpen

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(Mandatory Credit: Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Now that the winter hot stove is finally beginning to heat up, many followers of the Dodgers are wondering if the Los Angeles management crew will make any significant moves to bolster the club’s roster before pitchers and catchers report to Camelback Ranch in just a few short months.

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Dodgers Roster: Outlining the Biggest Holes Heading into 2018

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(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the Dodgers making just a few run-of-the-mill roster transactions so far this offseason, the front office has been relatively quiet, although rumors continue to swirl identifying slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Japanese superstar Shohei Otani as potential targets. But while adding Stanton and/or Otani isn’t exactly out of the realm of impossibility, it’s very much unlikely, as the Los Angeles management crew may be inclined to take a more economical route at filling out the roster.

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Dodgers’ 2018 Destiny May Be Influenced by Activity this Winter

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(Mandatory Credit: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

At the non-waiver trade deadline, they all say that the team that makes a big move will be the team putting themselves in the best position to win in October. Well, winter is no exception. The free agent market this year is interesting, and there are some big names out there—players that contenders need to sign.

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Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on a Potential Brandon Morrow Signing

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(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

While it hasn’t yet been a week since the conclusion of Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, there’s already been a ton of speculation stirring on how the Dodgers will fill in the blanks for the prospective 2018 player roster.

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Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

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“For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.” ~Green Day

Longtime readers of my column may remember that last year, I used a song to encompass thoughts I had about any Dodgers doings and happenings. I felt it fitting to bring that back for this column, and as Green Day so often does, wrote lyrics to capture exactly what I was feeling.

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So the Dodgers Bullpen Is Not Invincible After All

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(Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

Sooner or later, when you exclusively depend on the success rate of mathematical probability as your primary influence of decision making, things are going to backfire. Ultimately, predictability is not how things will go, but how they can go. And things didn’t go quite the way Dodgers‘ skipper Dave Roberts had hoped in Game 2 of the World Series in Los Angeles on Wednesday evening.

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