Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has received the dreaded “vote of confidence” from skipper Dave Roberts, as detailed in a report from the Orange County Register’s Bill Plunkett. Following a blown save in Friday’s game against Arizona, Jansen has five blown saves in 2019–matching his combined total from 2017 and 2018. Despite the big righty’s career-high 3.83 ERA entering play Saturday, Roberts seemed generally nonplussed at the prospect of a Jansen demotion. “Do I have any concerns? No,” Roberts told Plunkett. “He’s a guy that I know for us to win 11 games in October, we need him. I know he’ll get there.”
As Plunkett points out, Jansen has responded to his 2019 struggles by altering his repertoire. Typically a flamethrower with a 90% usage rate on his cutter, Jansen has implemented a slider at an 11.3% clip in 2019–his highest rate on that offering since 2016. “Certainly throughout the early part of his career, he just overpowered the league and there was some unfamiliarity there. Now you’ve got to continue to evolve,” Roberts said.
More developments from the world of late-inning lynchpins…
- Blue Jays hurler Ken Giles has been dealing with a balky elbow for several weeks and could end up on the injured list in the coming days. Manager Charlie Montoyo told Scott Mitchell of TSN that Giles’ arm isn’t “bouncing back” after a July cortisone shot that was intended to quell inflammation surrounding the elbow, and admitted that the team is having a “conversation” about what to do next in regard to Giles. At 49-71, the Blue Jays don’t figure to close many relevant ballgames down the season’s homestretch, but it stands to reason that Giles’ lingering injury would be of concern to a Blue Jays front office that opted not to deal the talented closer at July’s trade deadline. Across 37 innings, Giles has logged identically fantastic ERA and FIP marks of 1.95.
- Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel hit the injured list five days ago with knee inflammation, but he could rejoin the team for this week’s upcoming series with the Phillies, per Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Kimbrel is expected to “test” his knee with a bullpen session in Philadelphia, although it is unlikely that he will be activated when first eligible on Wednesday. After Steve Cishek’s IL placement this afternoon, Cubs fans will certainly be clamoring for Kimbrel’s recovery.