Having pitched on back to back nights, Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen was unavailable to pitch in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night, manager Dave Roberts said.
Roberts last week gently announced that Jansen would not necessarily pitch the ninth inning going forward. Jansen did so in Game 2 and was unable to get the final out despite making 30 pitches in a 6-5 win over the Padres.
Asked if he trusted using Jansen in a high-leverage situation, Roberts replied, “Leverage matters. I’m going to continue watching the game. I’m not going to make that decision yet."
Roberts said he has no explanation for Jansen’s drop in velocity over the past three weeks, speculating it could be mechanics, body movement and release point. He said he was not concerned with “losing Kenley mentally.”
“All he cares about is winning a championship for Los Angeles,” Roberts said. “We have to look at real time and do what’s best for the Dodgers, and he understands that.”
Roberts said he would select pitchers based on matchups rather than defined roles by innings.
“I love the options we have,” he said.
An huge play under the radar?
With the cardboard cutouts still buzzing over Cody Bellinger’s homer-robbing catch in the top of the seventh inning of Game 2, a double steal in the bottom of the inning could have been overlooked, but not by the Dodgers.
That’s when Padres manager Jayce Tingler brought in left-hander Drew Pomeranz to face Justin Turner, and that might have been as responsible for the Dodgers' win as Bellinger’s catch.
The pitching change allowed Betts, Seager and Turner to talk things over. If you’ve ever wondered what players on the bases talk about during those pitching changes, Seager shed some light, confirming Roberts’ postgame comments that the players ran on their own.
“We met over at the side, and Mookie was kind of talking about [stealing third], so he definitely let J.T. know it was possible,” said Seager.
When play resumed, Pomeranz looked at both runners before delivering, but Betts took off anyway. Turner took a ball, Betts easily beat catcher Austin Nola’s throw to third and Seager advanced to second base as the trail runner. Turner followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Betts, and Max Muncy’s bloop single scored Seager with what proved to be the decisive sixth run.
“Mookie thought he could have [Pomeranz]," Seager said, "and you get a little bigger lead and you want to be on the backside and not stay in the double-play ball.
“You steal the base, and J.T.’s lineout turns into a sac fly, and Muncy gets a big hit right there and turns into another run. Those are big moments of the game. If that doesn’t happen, you never know what happens, you might end up losing the game. That there is a big situation, and Mookie took advantage of a guy he thought he could steal off of.”
Kelly: Jansen 'taking it well'
After being idle for 10 days and walking two batters to load the bases, a rusty Joe Kelly hung on to be credited with the Game 2 save after his “catch partner” and lockermate Jansen couldn’t get the final out.
Kelly said Jansen is holding up well despite recent struggles and uncertain role.
“We’ve had some good conversations,” said Kelly. “Kenley’s taking it well. Obviously, he doesn’t like underperforming, but he’s a mentally tough guy. We pick each other up. It’s not like he’s sitting around his locker pouting. He’s fine, he knows the deal. It’s not like he’s not going to pitch if he doesn’t pitch the ninth. He’s a good teammate and he’s taking it like a man. He knows he hasn’t been throwing the ball at his best, but he’ll be there when we need him.”