Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Tag: Kenley Jansen (Page 2 of 9)

Dodger bullpen runs deep heading into NLDS

Kenley Jansen and Joe Blanton (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Kenley Jansen and Joe Blanton (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Josh Reddick, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andrew Toles, LF
Clayton Kershaw, P
Trea Turner, CF
Bryce Harper, RF
Jayson Werth, LF
Daniel Murphy, 2B
Anthony Rendon, 3B
Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
Danny Espinosa, SS
Pedro Severino, C
Max Scherzer P

By Jon Weisman

Any Dodger game that starts with Clayton Kershaw on the mound ideally ends with Clayton Kershaw on the mound.

But with seven relievers who have performed strongly down the stretch, the Dodgers can be as aggressive with their playoff bullpen as they have been in years.

Of the six relievers the Dodgers would use to preserve a lead, none had a September ERA higher than 2.00, and only Joe Blanton had a September WHIP above 1.03.

Kenley Jansen, of course, is the primary candidate for the ninth inning, and if necessary could be drawn into the eighth inning. This year, Jansen entered six games in the eighth and saved five of them.

In the set-up roles, the Dodgers can mix and match righties Joe Blanton, Pedro Báez and Josh Fields with lefties Grant Dayton and Luis Avilán, with Ross Stripling held back for extra innings.

That means even if Kershaw only goes six innings, the Dodgers could go batter-to-batter against a Washington starting lineup that goes R-L-R-L-R at the top.

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In case you missed it: Vinnys Vinnys everywhere

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Cubs at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrián González, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Josh Reddick, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Andrew Toles, LF
Julio Urías , P

By Jon Weisman

As part of Team Photo Day on Friday, the Dodgers indulged in a fantasy — that everyone in the world could be as wonderful as Vin Scully.

Of course, there really can only be one Vin Scully, as a close examination of the above image will reveal. (Click to enlarge.)

Here are some other recent items of note …

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Big hits betray Dodgers in loss to Phillies

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By Jon Weisman

Nothing reverses fortunes like baseball.

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Milestones for Gonzalez, Segedin in Dodger win

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Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 8.47.39 PMBy Jon Weisman

Adrian Gonzalez hit his 300th career home run, while Rob Segedin drove in a club-record (for an MLB debut) four runs, in the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over Boston tonight.

It’s important to relay the note from the Dodgers’ public-relations department that the previous franchise mark for RBI in a debut of  three was set by Packy Rogers, on July 12, 1938 vs. the Giants.

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How the revitalized bullpen keyed Dodgers’ surge

San Diego Padres vs Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

In the Dodgers’ final inning before the All-Star Break, the best closer in the National League, Kenley Jansen, entered the game to protect a one-run lead against the fourth-place team in the National League West.

At that moment, the Dodger bullpen was several weeks into an extended resurgence that was forcing fans and media alike to unlearn everything it thought it knew about the team’s relievers. It progressed in stages, as if reversing the five stages of grief.

  • Hooray — they actually held a lead for once.
  • All right, I’ve stopped throwing things every time a reliever comes in.
  • I know this won’t last, but thank you for at least being adequate.
  • Hmm. Some of these guys are actually pretty good.
  • I don’t want to jinx this. But … wow.

Dodger bullpen failures have been branded into the collective memory of recent years, the scar tissue making it nearly impossible for most to feel the moments when the relievers were doing well — which, of course, was more often than the distraught and cynical could concede.

But by the time Jansen took the mound Sunday, the bullpen’s growing success was no longer possible to ignore.

Dodger relievers lead the Major Leagues with a 2.83 ERA. They lead the Major Leagues with a 1.02 WHIP.

In fact, as Dodger broadcaster Joe Davis pointed out, the Dodger bullpen’s opponents batting average of .192 is currently the lowest in modern baseball history. The team’s WHIP is the lowest in NL history.

That’s extraordinary. And that’s not wishcasting. That’s something that has been happening. The Dodger bullpen has become the opposite of an albatross. It’s a primary reason that, despite the “I Love Lucy” chocolate conveyor belt of injuries, that Los Angeles (51-40) is on a 91-win pace and once again a team to be reckoned with.

In terms of inherited runners stranded, the Dodgers were seventh among MLB teams at 72 percent — in the upper echelon but with room for improvement. The good news — the great news — is that the improvement is already underway.

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Pitching history for Dodger All-Stars

My beautiful picture

By Jon Weisman

Six years have passed since a Dodger closer pitched in the All-Star Game. Kenley Jansen gets to end that streak tonight.

Jansen, overdue for his first All-Star Game, might not get to pitch the final inning, so it’s more likely than not that Jonathan Broxton’s save in 2010 remains the most recent in the Midsummer Classic by a Dodger. Nevertheless, Jansen should get a chance to etch his name among the team’s 76 previous All-Star appearances.

Of course, Jansen could also become the first Dodger pitcher credited with an All-Star victory since Jerry Reuss in front of the 1980 hometown crowd in Los Angeles. Since then, three Dodgers have been the losing All-Star pitcher: Chan Ho Park (2001), Eric Gagne (2003) and Clayton Kershaw (2015). Dodger pitchers have a 6-6 record in 12 All-Star decisions.

Certainly, it was nowhere to go but up for the franchise after its ignominious All-Star debut via Van Lingle Mungo, who allowed four runs plus two inherited runs in a six-run fifth inning by the American League in 1934. Not that Mungo had it easy: He entered the game with Babe Ruth on second base, Lou Gehrig on first and Jimmie Foxx at the plate. Two walks, three singles and a double later, the AL had gone from trailing 4-2 to leading 8-4.

The most famous Dodger All-Star pitching performance belongs to Fernando Valenzuela, who from the fourth through sixth innings in 1986 faced 10 batters, retired nine and struck out the first five — Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken Jr., Jesse Barfield, Lou Whitaker and Teddy Higuera — all in a row. Kirby Puckett’s groundout was the first ball in play against Valenzuela, whose outing was marred only by a pop-fly Wade Boggs single in the sixth.

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Jansen, Kershaw, Seager named to NL All-Star team


By Jon Weisman

The wait is over for Kenley Jansen, and it never began for Corey Seager.

The Dodgers’ veteran closer and rookie shortstop have each been named to their first National League All-Star team, where they are joined at least in spirit by Clayton Kershaw — who despite his current back injury earned his sixth consecutive All-Star spot.

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If Corey Seager doesn’t win the All-Star fan vote …

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Francisco Giants

By Jon Weisman

… we’ll storm the barricades?  I don’t know. The point is, Corey Seager deserves to start at shortstop for the National League in the July 12 All-Star Game, and no one really questions this. Just today, he was a unanimous pick among six ESPN sportswriters.

The fact remains, however, that Seager was 658,748 votes (yeah, I did the math) behind Cubs shortstop Addison Russell with under four days remaining before the fan vote ended. So fans of justice and the 22-year-old shortstop probably need to count on Seager being chosen as a reserve.

How exactly does that happen? Here’s a refresher course, courtesy of Anthony Castrovince of …

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Video: Through the years with Kenley Jansen

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By Jon Weisman

Looking back, what Vin Scully had to say after Kenley Jansen’s first save on July 25, 2010 is pretty special …

So Kenley Jansen has faced six batters in the Major Leagues, and he has struck out four of ’em. He comes up with his first save. An unbelievable story: The progress of a man who came from nowhere but behind the plate, going to the mound last July — and now all of a sudden figures prominently in the Dodger pitching plans, believe it or not.

Enjoy this video celebrating Jansen’s achivement.

Kenley Jansen breaks franchise save record

By Jon Weisman

With a grounder by Anthony Rendon to Justin Turner and a throw to first, Kenley Jansen closed out the Dodgers 4-1 victory over Washington tonight and set the Dodgers’ all-time saves record with the 162nd of his career.

Jansen broke the tie he had forged with Eric Gagne on June 15. It was also Jansen’s 20th save of the season, making him the first Dodger to have five such seasons.

As was the case for his first career save on July 25, 2010, Jansen sealed a victory for Clayton Kershaw, who pitched six shutout innings before allowing his only run in the seventh inning.

Despite pitching in unKershawly heat, the Dodger lefty’s ERA dipped from 1.58 to 1.57, but more dramatically, he fanned eight (including Bryce Harper thrice) while walking none, improving his dominant strikeout/walk ratio to 144/7, or 20.1 to you and me.

Emergency starter Yusmeiro Petit pitched admirably for Washington, going six innings on 90 minutes notice, but was victimized by four extra-base hits, including a pair of homers (by Justin Turner and Joc Pederson) and a pair of doubles (by Corey Seager and Corey Seager).

For Turner, it was his seventh homer of June (since June 7, in fact), giving him the team lead for the month over Seager. The last Dodger …

  • to hit more in June was Matt Kemp, with nine in 2011.
  • to hit double-digits in June was Shawn Green, with 12 in 2002.
  • to be Pedro Guerrero in June was Pedro Guerrero, with 15 in 1985.

Van Slyke homer sets up win for Kershaw, record-tying save for Jansen


By Jon Weisman

You’ve got Clayton Kershaw on the mound. You just want that big hit.

With two out in the sixth inning, 10 Dodgers had reached base, but that critical blow remained but a dream.

Then, Scott Van Slyke made Dodger wishes come true, following singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Howie Kendrick with a 405-foot, three-run homer to left to give the Dodgers their first lead. Kershaw made it stand up for his 7 1/3 innings and 11 strikeouts, and Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen closed the doors and windows for a 3-2 Dodger victory at Arizona.

Dodger all-time save leaders
161 Eric Gagne
161 Kenley Jansen
129 Jeff Shaw
127 Todd Worrell
125 Jim Brewer

For Jansen, it was his 161st career save, tying the Dodger franchise record set by Eric Gagne. Jansen’s first career save was July 25, 2010, to protect a win for … Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw struck out at least 10 and walked no more than one, for the ninth time this season. Curt Schilling holds the MLB record with 13 such games in 2002.

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Pederson’s two blasts lead Dodger homer parade

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By Jon Weisman

After stoking more fears about the offense with four no-hit innings to start the game, the Dodgers traded that quartet for four home runs — two by Joc Pederson — ending their three-game losing streak with a 7-4 win at Arizona.

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Honors await Kenley Jansen, but his relationship with Don Newcombe is truly something to cherish

2016 HS05 Dodger Insider cover

By Jon Weisman

When I set out to do our latest cover story for Dodger Insider magazine on Kenley Jansen, the initial idea was to talk to the big reliever about his potential first All-Star appearance, or his approach toward the Dodger career save record.

But quickly the story switched to an angle I was only too happy to explore — Jansen’s close relationship with Dodger legend Don Newcombe.

“He’s my father in the United States,” Jansen said. “That’s what it feels like.”

“I think he’s a fine human being, a fine human being,” Newcombe emphasized. “He’s like a son to me, and he wants me to just be a part of his life. That’s all. No big deal, no instructions or anything, just a part of him.”

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jansen is 28 years old. Newcombe turns 90 in one week (his birthday will be celebrated at Dodger Stadium with his bobblehead night this evening). Generations separate them, but their connection runs deep — and it was a joy just to see how much.

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Beginning this year, the Dodgers merged their previously separate Playbill and Dodger Insider magazines into one publication (at least 80 pages per issue) with a new edition available each homestand plus one in October, 13 issues total. It is distributed at auto gates (one per vehicle) and via Fan Services for those who use alternate transportation. Dodger Insider magazine includes news, features, analysis, photos, games, stadium information and more. Fans who still wish to subscribe can do so at

Adrian Gonzalez leads Dodgers in NL All-Star voting

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Chicago Cubs

All-Star 6-1 part 1By Jon Weisman

For a Dodger team that hasn’t dominated offensively in 2016, the initial National League All-Star voting update yields some unsurprising results.

Adrian Gonzalez is the lone Dodger position player to appear in the top five in any category. Gonzalez is only 18,000 votes behind Brandon Belt of the Giants, though each is more than 600,000 votes behind the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo. Fan voting continues through the end of June at

Still, 2016 offers a rare All-Star opportunity for the Dodgers. The only time the Dodgers have had the starting and closing pitchers in an All-Star Game was in 1974, when Andy Messersmith went the first three innings and Mike Marshall the final two in a 7-2 NL victory.

All-Star 6-1 Part 2Clayton Kershaw and Kenley Jansen can add their names to that list.

Kershaw, whose WAR is 57 percent higher than the next closest starting pitcher, is the most likely NL pitcher to start the All-Star Game, while Jansen is arguably the top choice to finish it (with Hector Rondon of the Cubs sitting as the top competition right now).

Eleven Dodger pitchers have started an All-Star Game. Believe it or not, none of them are Kershaw.

Among position players, the noteworthy Dodger candidate dating back essentially to Opening Day has been Chase Utley. The 37-year-old started the season strong and hasn’t flagged, posting a .369 on-base percentage, .428 slugging percentage, .349 weighted on-base average and 122 weighted runs created over the first two months.

The problem for Utley is that he’s at a position that is stacked this year, with Washington’s Daniel Murphy (.447 wOBA) and Chicago’s Ben Zobrist (.418 wOBA) in the midst of monster seasons, and New York’s Neil Walker (.362 wOBA) ripping 13 home runs himself.

With a .361 OBP and .555 slugging over the past four weeks — including seven home runs in the past 20 days — Corey Seager has suddenly emerged as the Dodgers’ top position-player candidate, relative to the competition. Despite Seager’s superior stats, fans will need to make an enormous push for Seager to overcome Addison Russell’s lead at the ballot box, though a reserve spot as a consolation prize is in play.

Seager trailed fellow rookie Trevor Story of Colorado, who homered 10 times in April, in wOBA by 113 points on May 1. He has narrowed that gap to 24 points, while playing superior defense, according to the metrics. In fact, a good deal of Seager’s value is tied into his solid defense, which makes him a harder sell on a ballot that only celebrates offense.

Joc Pederson’s eight home runs have kept him on the fringe of All-Star consideration, but the outfield competition is likely to be too stiff for him to return to the All-Star Game after playing there as a rookie in 2015. Similarly, Gonzalez has some respectable numbers, but they’re unlikely enough to push through a group at first base that includes Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, Belt and Rizzo.

Official voting notes:

You may vote in the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Balloting Program a maximum of thirty-five (35) times between April 24, 2016, and June 30, 2016 (limit of five (5) times during any twenty-four (24) hour period, with that twenty-four (24) hour period to begin as of the time of the first vote; following the expiration of the initial twenty-four (24) hour period, the next twenty-four (24) hour period begins at the time of your next vote).

You can also receive the 2016 Esurance MLB All-Star Game ballot by texting VOTE or VOTA to 89269. In Canada, fans can receive the ballot by texting VOTE to 101010.

Unlikely comeback meets unhappy ending

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By Jon Weisman

In more than 100 years, no reliever had ever entered the ninth inning of a game against the Dodgers with a four-run lead, blown the lead and won the game.

But that’s what happened when the Mets’ Jeurys Familia gave up a bases-loaded walk to Yasmani Grandal and a three-run double to Chase Utley (the latest memorable moment for Utley) – then emerged the winning pitcher on Curtis Granderson’s home run off Pedro Baez, 6-5.

Via, the closest equivalent was September 27, 2011, when Arizona’s Micah Owings started the 10th inning of a 1-1 game against the Dodgers and allowed five runs before the Diamondbacks scored six in the bottom of the inning off Blake Hawksworth and Javy Guerra, capped by a Ryan Roberts grand slam.

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