Heading into Monday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 67-58 and sat 2.0 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and a half-game back from the Colorado Rockies in the NL West Division.
One of the main reasons for the talented squad’s recent slide was the fact that they lost All-Star closer Kenley Jansen to the 10-day disabled list due to a scary heart abnormality.
While Jansen’s health obviously matters most and was concerning since he underwent heart surgery in 2012, it was astounding to see how Los Angeles crumbled without him.
In fact, during the 10 games that Jansen missed heading into Monday, the Dodgers went 4-6 and in eight of the contests, their bullpen blew leads or broke ties in the final three innings, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN reported. The bullpen as a whole allowed 19 runs in 29 1/3 innings.
However, the Dodgers received great news on Monday: their closer was cleared to return to the club and won’t have any restrictions moving forward.
The closer returns
Per Gonzalez, manager Dave Roberts said Jansen will immediately step back into his closers role.
"It's huge," Roberts stated, per ESPN. "It puts guys in their rightful spot in the 'pen, and I can use them the way I feel is best. He's the best in the game, so to have him in the back end changes the way they're going to manage and the way I'm going to manage as well."
Despite the scare, Jansen made it clear that he’s fearless and will continue to produce normally moving forward.
"I'm not thinking about my heart," Jansen said. "I'm not. You have no control over your heart, so if it goes, it goes. That's how I think. I'm in great shape. I do a lot of running during the down times. So I'm ready to go. Ain't no time here. We're, what, two games back? Thirty-seven games, we just gotta go now. I don't need to be babied. And I'm sure I'm not going to be babied. My heart is fine, and I'm ready to go.”
Jansen is sporting a 2.15 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 54.1 innings this season. He has punched out 61 hitters and allowed just 35 hits while recording 32 saves. Although he’s blown three saves, he has been a steady option in what has been an unreliable Dodgers ‘pen as a whole.
Despite the fact that LA’s offense is among the best in the entire MLB, they’ll need Jansen to hold down the fort at the end of games if they want to make a legitimate push in the final stretch of the season.