LOS ANGELES -- Closer Kenley Jansen was off-limits for pitching on Sunday, but he sure was a big topic during pregame conversation with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.Jansen was back in action just 10 days following an episode of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). In the five days since his return, Jansen
LOS ANGELES -- Closer Kenley Jansen was off-limits for pitching on Sunday, but he sure was a big topic during pregame conversation with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Jansen was back in action just 10 days following an episode of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat). In the five days since his return, Jansen has allowed four ninth-inning home runs, losing twice and earning a blown save on Saturday night.
Jansen had a similar episode six years ago, leading to offseason ablation surgery, which he is likely to face again this winter.
Causative speculation for his recent performance runs the gamut, from mechanical flaws to loss of confidence to medication side effects. Neither the club nor the player have discussed side effects, but typically, a patient would be prescribed medicine that slows the heartbeat, which conceivably could affect athletic performance.
Whatever is going on with Jansen, allowing homers in three consecutive appearances is something that had never gone on before. His velocity Saturday night was solid, but again his cutter was finding too much of the plate.
"In my opinion, I think he needs a day off," said Roberts, who plans for Jansen to return on Tuesday after Monday's travel day.
Although Jansen also throws a slider and sinker, Roberts said that a pitcher who has been so reliant on a pitch like the cutter for so long becomes predictable.
"So, when you're not executing as much as you're used to, you open yourself up, certainly," Roberts said. "Guys with Kenley look up in the zone and right-handers look out over, that's a fact. So, to be able to pitch to different quadrants, that's a conversation I know Kenley is open to, to keep a hitter honest. The hitters tell you if you need to make an adjustment. If guys are hitting a certain pitch or location, you've got to adjust and play that cat and mouse. That's not just Kenley, that's everyone."
Closer duties on Sunday were likely to be handled by Scott Alexander and Kenta Maeda. Thomas Stripling is expected to be activated off the disabled list and move to the bullpen on Tuesday.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.