As the Dodgers bullpen was attempting to get the final 5 outs to preserve Clayton Kershaw‘s 20th win last night there was a debate on Twitter whether or not Kenley Jansen should stay in the game, and pitch the 9th inning after getting the Dodgers out of a big jam in the 8th inning.
Jansen entered with runners on 1st & 2nd, with only 1 out, and the Giants two best hitters coming to the plate, Pablo Sandoval and Carlos Beltran. Check out the video, from the Giants broadcast of how dominantly Jansen finished off the Giants in the 8th.
Having thrown only 7 pitches there was debate on whether or not to send Jansen out to pitch the 9th as well. Javy Guerra had converted 18 of 19 save chances prior to last night, however, he tends to make them quite stressful at times. That appeared to be the case last night when he couldn’t field and throw out a bunt, which allowed the lead-off runner to get on base. However, he got the next 3 outs quite easily to get the save.
While I am of the opinion that the best pitcher in your bullpen should be getting the final 3 outs, and make no mistake Jansen is clearly the Dodgers best reliever, Jon makes a great case that Jansen is in his ideal role. Rather than try to summarize Dodger Thoughts, I’ll let you read Jon’s argument:
Keeping this as concise as possible in the interest of time:
- Kenley has struck out 25 of his past 40 batters.
- Kenley Jansen has gotten 25 of his past 31 outs via the strikeout.
- Kenley Jansen is so overwhelming right now, a Giants blog, Bay City Ball, rhapsodized about him.
- Kenley Jansen has a WHIP of 0.671 since coming off the disabled list in June, allowing eight singles, a double and 10 walks in 28 1/3 innings.
- Kenley Jansen has allowed a .098 batting average, .192 on-base percentage and .109 slugging percentage in that time.
- Kenley Jansen is the Dodgers’ most dominant reliever, the reliever you’d most trust to get an out when you need it.
It is for these reasons that I hope the Dodgers do not make Kenley Jansen a closer next season.
Tuesday’s victory illustrated why. If Jansen were the closer, Dodger manager Don Mattingly would have held him back until the ninth inning, rather than having him come put out the fire when Clayton Kershaw gave up a home run and two walks in the eighth inning.
It’s far better that Jansen be available at the game’s biggest crisis point, whatever inning that comes.
My hope is that if Mattingly feels he must have a regular closer in 2012, he is seduced by Guerra’s 19 saves in 20 opportunities and keeps him in that slot. Nothing against Guerra, who has been one of the season’s most pleasant surprises, but he is not a smokejumper like Jansen, who looks more capable of putting out the toughest fires than any other Dodger reliever.
It’s hard to argue with the case he makes, especially when he credits Lasorda’s Lair later in his article for my brilliant and completely lucky prediction that Jerry Sands would homer off of Tim Lincecum, which he did in his first at-bat:
Kenny Shulsen of Lasorda’s Lair predicted Jerry Sands’ home run off Tim Lincecum on Tuesday — a home run, I believe that will be remembered when debating Sands’ potential this offseason.
By the way Matt Kemp is trying to make his run for a 40 HR 40 SB season interesting. Remember Kemp homered in each of his last 5 games last season. After the blast he hit tonight he has 7 games to try and add 5 homers. Unlikely yes, but I wouldn’t put anything past him.
Kemp now leads the National League in RBI by 3 over Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder, also leads the NL in runs scored by 1 over Ryan Braun and Justin Upton, thanks to his 3-run blast he hit tonight. He also in now just 1 home run behind Albert Pujols for the NL lead with his 35th blast tonight. He needs to stay hot and have Braun and Jose Reyes slump a bit over the last week of the season, but the triple crown is not completely beyond the realm of possibility.
One benefit Kemp may have is the Phillies and Brewers could rest Howard and Fielder a bit over the last week of the season as the Phillies have already clinched their playoff spot and the Brewers are very close to doing the same. Just one more thing to think about that is working in Matt Kemp’s favor.
Check out Kemp’s 3-run blast tonight with commentary from Vin Scully.
Topics: Albert Pujols, Clayton Kershaw, Don Mattingly, ESPN Dodger Thoughts, Javy Guerra, Jerry Sands, Justin Upton, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, NL MVP, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Ryan Howard, San Francisco Giants