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Jansen entrenched at closer as D-backs return

LOS ANGELES -- Kenley Jansen has thrived as the Dodgers' closer since winning the job nearly three months ago, when the D-backs last visited Dodger Stadium.

Jansen has 25 saves this season, tied for a career high, and has converted his last 18 save opportunities since July 3. The right-hander leads National League relievers with a 0.80 WHIP, and ranks second in the Majors among relievers with 100 strikeouts.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been pleased with the way Jansen has taken ownership of the ninth-inning role this season, after being forced out of the same position last year because of a heart condition.

"When that door opens out there and he comes rolling out, the fans can feel it, too, that this is Kenley," Mattingly said. "There's an excitement about him. I think that's part of him maturing and being the guy."

Jansen took over for Brandon League as the closer in early June during a series against Arizona, when the Dodgers were at the bottom of the National League West and the D-backs were in first. Since then, the Dodgers have surged to the top of the division with Jansen routinely shutting the door in the ninth.

Still, Jansen had some difficult outings not long after he supplanted League. But Mattingly noticed a change in Jansen's demeanor and confidence after he nearly blew a save during a series Toronto following the All-Star break.

"It seemed like the next three or four times, it was like he wasn't going to let that happen," Mattingly said. "That's kind of really been, for me, the one true turning point of him just saying, 'I'm going to slam the door. I'm not going to leave anything open for question.'"

Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for
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