Undeniably, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is firm in who his closer is entering the MLB postseason. Without question, that man is Kenley Jansen. As we will get into – Roberts reaffirmed this notion at Dodgers’ Media Day on Tuesday at Chavez Ravine.
Recently – Roberts spoke not of any type of closer controversy – but the need for a ‘confident’ Kenley Jansen in October. Clearly, this is a team that will sink or swim with the big man at the end of ballgames.
Furthermore, when asked about the status of his bullpen at the end of a game; Roberts didn’t blink.
“I know Kenleys our closer….. the goal is to get outs ….. I want him to have the ball at the end of the game!” – Dave Roberts pic.twitter.com/IKHkPuE3MH
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) October 2, 2019
Truly, the one quote he gives says it all.
“I know Kenley is our closer. The goal is to get outs. I want him to have the ball at the end of a game.”
Indeed – if this is what Roberts wants – he will have it. While he has no doubt about what button to push in a tight spot during a month where those situations are abundant, Jansen must execute.
Without question, 2019 was the toughest year of Jansen’s big league career. His age-31 season saw his ERA climb to a career-high 3.71 in 62 appearances. While he tallied a respectable 33 saves and 1.06 WHIP, those numbers are out of line with his career norms. Furthermore, Jansen surrendered 7.3 hits per nine innings pitched; far above his career average of 5.8 per nine.
Clearly, this is a player who must find it within himself a way to miss bats and rise above a season of struggles. Fresh off a birthday celebration, Jansen must return to action with the confidence that Roberts talks about. The Dodgers will go as far as the man with the ball in the ninth will take them.
Finally, it’s almost a guarantee that Jansen will have the ball in his hand against a good team in the final frame. Moreover, the Dodgers will have a lead. It is from that point perhaps; that the final chapters of the 2019 Dodgers will be written.