Los Angeles Dodgers are looking once again like the team to beat, at least in the National League. Does it mean that they have a secure path to the World Series?
No, they don’t.
Of course, elite teams build their great records during the regular season.
That’s why we need to look a little bit further into details to explain why the Dodgers’ chances could be hurt by their late inning hurler Kenley Jansen.
“His ball didn’t have any life to it.” — Dave Roberts on closer Kenley Jansen #Dodgers
— Michael J. Duarte (@michaeljduarte) August 10, 2019
Kenley Jansen struggles vs .500+ teams
Remember that when we talk about the postseason, logically teams own winning percentages way over .500.
You won’t see teams under rebuilding mode like the Miami Marlins or the Baltimore Orioles, which means that the grind to win ballgames will be tougher in October.
Jansen has allowed a 2.57 ERA and an OPS of .577 over 21 innings pitched against teams under .500.
Versus the ones over .500 winning percentage, a 4.94 ERA and .750 OPS in 24.2 IP, astronomical numbers by his standards.
That’s night and day, considering the fact that he posted the following numbers in the last 2 years against teams over .500:
2017 – 29.1 IP, ERA 1.23, OPS .448
2018 – 42 IP, ERA 3.21, OPS .668
His 3.74 ERA for the season stands as the second highest of all closers within the Top 10 in the Saves department, just behind Edwin Diaz’s 5.32 mark.
With his velocity going down, along with his cutter not having the same lateral movement and action, Jansen has been working through the unexpected.
Not what Los Angeles Dodgers need at all.
When velocity is a problem, location is the solution. Heck, location will always be the solution!
— ⚾️ 🅷🅾🅼🅰🆁 🅱🅰🆂🅴🅱🅰🅻🅻 ⚾️ (@TorresBaseball) August 13, 2019
Dodgers knew what they were doing
If you are a Dodger fan, you have no need to worry.
Most of Jansen’s struggles came in more as a collective issue, rather than one man carrying with all the negative load of it.
When relievers are struggling, the closer typically carries a bigger workload than expected.
It’s not a secret. Working around something that we don’t expect takes time for an adjustment, just like Jansen had when relievers struggled during the first half of the season.
Win No. 11 for Clayton Kershaw. Save No. 26 for Kenley Jansen. Win No. 76 for the #Dodgers.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) August 7, 2019
Focus on a single job
Now, with the call-up to the Big Leagues of Dustin May, Joe Kelly’s re-emergence, and the eventual move of Kenta Maeda to the bullpen for the postseason, things are going to get clearer in the Los Angeles area.
At the same time, Jansen will eventually get better, for sure. Dave Roberts knows that.
At last, the Dodgers’ closer can finally focus on just one role and that is pitching the 9th inning, while the team in blue can concentrate on a single role.
That is winning ballgames, hence winning the Playoffs and finally, the so desired World Series ring.
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