Throughout their reign over the National League West, the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has regularly — and at times unfairly — been pointed to as the weak point of the team and reason behind the franchise’s World Series drought reaching 31 years.
Up until last season, Kenley Jansen had largely proven exempt from the criticism. However, after a light workload in Spring Training that was meant to serve as a means of preserving Jansen for another deep postseason run, the closer has yet to consistently meet expectations.
Amid another rocky campaign, Jansen recently said a key to getting back to his dominant form is making more regular appearances. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts agreed, and said Jansen would be used more frequently in non-save situations.
According to Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group, the two have come to an agreement that will have Jansen pitch in at least one game per every series:
Jansen said the two mutually agreed that Roberts will use him at least once per series for the remainder of the regular season regardless of the game score or whether it is a save situation.
“I told him, ‘Listen, man, we both know you want to give me the save situations and stuff like that. But if I have to sacrifice three or four saves now just to get more work, that will get me more sharp,’” Jansen said. “You see the years I did so well were the years when I pitched a lot more consistently. I pitched a lot and consistently. I know once I keep getting into games — like that second game against Arizona I felt so much better than the first day.”
Jansen wasn’t used in either of the Dodgers’ blowout victories against the Miami Marlins, which under his new agreement with Roberts, all but assures he will appear in Thursday’s series finale.
With the Dodgers committing to a shift in strategy, Roberts indicated Pedro Baez and Joe Kelly will be relied upon in save situations if Jansen is unavailable because of previous usage. “It’s still a benefit for the ballclub and him to get that consistent work,” Roberts said.
He has maintained confidence in Jansen, who is sporting a career-worst 3.74 ERA in 45.2 innings pitched over 45 appearances. Jansen’s 3.50 FIP, 1.07 WHIP and seven home runs allowed each represent the second-worst marks of his career.
During what would be considered his peak years — 2016 and 2017 — Jansen appeared in 71 and 65 games, respectively.