Highlights have at times been hard to come by in a season that Kenley Jansen has described as the most challenging of his career. But there was reason for the embattled closer to smile Wednesday as he finished out the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 6-4 win against the San Diego Padres.
While Jansen had encouraging flashes in the series opener at Petco Park, he was much more dominant despite pitching in a back-to-back scenario. Those opportunities have been rare, particularly after the All-Star break.
But Jansen looked much more like his dominant self as he set the Padres down in order to convert a 300th career save. He became just the sixth pitcher in MLB history to accomplish the feat with a single team.
Jansen was humbled by the milestone but reiterated his primary goal is helping the Dodgers end their World Series drought, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“It’s a blessing to get 300 saves. I never thought I was going to be pitching in the big leagues, and here I am with 300 saves. It’s awesome. … Haven’t been able to process it yet, but it’s awesome. The whole team is focused on bringing the championship back to L.A. My focus is more there.”
Jansen converted saves in back-to-back games for the first time since doing so against the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies from May 30-31.
While Jansen has allowed at least one run in three of 10 appearances during September, he’s at least cut down on home runs by keeping opponents in the yard during that span. He’s already surrendered nine, which is four from tying a career high set last season.
Furthermore, Jansen’s 3.77 ERA is on track to be a career-worst mark. His inconsistency led to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts saying he would be flexible with the closer role in the postseason if necessary.
That could lead to save opportunities for Pedro Baez and Julio Urias, both of whom are essentially locks to be included on the playoff roster. Joe Kelly and Dustin May could also find themselves in high-leverage opportunities as well.
But that’s if Kelly is able to overcome his mysterious injury, and should the Dodgers carry May on their postseason roster.