Kenley Jansen isn’t the same. We know this. Even when he has been the Jansen of past seasons, it does not tend to translate to the postseason. It seems to be a never-ending saga. This year might be different, however, with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts seemingly being open to using Jansen outside of the ninth inning.
According to a recent column by Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group, Kenley Jansen might be used in some non-save situations throughout the NLDS and if the Dodgers are fortunate to make it further, the NLCS and World Series.
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 5, 2019
Jansen, 32, has yet to be used in the NLDS against the Nationals due to both games being non-save situations. But going forward, it appears that he may be deployed in high-leverage situations regardless of the inning they present themselves. With Joe Kelly and Julio Urías in tow, this might be the smartest way to approach his usage.
When Dave Roberts was asked about whether or not he would consider someone else being used to close out games due to unreliability on Jansen’s part, Roberts did not initially seem open to the idea. However, this was prior to Game 1:
“I don’t see that. I know Kenley is our closer. I don’t see that as an option. He’s done it and I want him to have the ball at the end of the game.”
When Roberts was asked prior to Game 2 about Jansen, his tone changed a great deal:
“It’s about getting outs. He understands that and appreciates that. Don’t read too much into it. I’m just saying he’s in such a good place – I’m telling you this is as good a place as he’s been in two years.”
Right Frame of Mind
Roberts also explained that this is the best frame of mind that Jansen has been in. Whether or not you believe it, this is good to hear. However, it remains to be seen in between the lines when it matters most.
“This is the best frame of mind he’s been in. So that speaks to his openness to pitch whenever there are important outs to be had. He understands that. It’s very telling. There’s no demotion. I don’t know how it’s going to play out. He’s our closer. But that doesn’t mean that there’s important outs in the eighth inning that we need him to get.”
The Dodgers openness to deploying Jansen outside of the ninth inning could thoroughly behoove the Dodgers and prove effective considering the other high-leverage options they have at their disposal.
If not Kenley, who do you want to see in the ninth inning? Let us know in the comments!