For several years Kenley Jansen was a constant in a Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen that had bouts of inconsistency. But he seemingly has been unable to recover from a scaled-back workload during 2018 Spring Training.
The Dodgers’ plan to ease Jansen into last season backfired, as he suffered from hamstring tightness that further delayed his Cactus League debut. It also compromised Jansen’s mechanics and velocity.
Trying moments in 2018 followed, and Jansen vowed to pitch more regularly in Spring Training this year. He carried through with that but now is in the midst of one of his worst seasons.
Jansen’s latest trouble came Saturday night when he entered in the eighth inning and surrendered a leadoff home run that held as the difference in the Dodgers’ 6-5 loss.
It prompted the 31-year-old to admit to how trying of a season it’s been while also expressing optimism over what could come from it, perJorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
Jansen called it is the most frustrating time of his career.
“Just dealing with so much crap,” Jansen said. “Just can’t get a break. Maybe this will just make me a stronger man and a stronger pitcher. And once I get through it, I’ll be fine.”
With their closer not pitching to expectations, the Dodgers made a recent commitment to insert Jansen into games with more regularity. The change in philosophy essentially guarantees Jansen makes at least one appearance per series.
He and the team decided it was the best course of action in terms of finding a rhythm for the postseason, even if it means sacrificing save opportunities. While Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has generally been pleased with Jansen’s pitching, results haven’t always followed suit.
Jansen worked out of a bases-loaded jam to convert a save against the New York Yankees, only to allow a run in the ninth inning and blow a save against the San Diego Padres four days later. That then was followed by the homer Jansen allowed at Chase Field in a non-save situation.
He’s maintained confidence through the ups and downs and promised Dodgers fans who booed him they would soon be back in his corner. Barring a remarkable turnaround, Jansen is on track to post the highest ERA of his career, and he’s already tied a career-worst mark with seven blown saves.