Relief pitcher Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers throws a pitch in the ninth inning on his way to picking up the save against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on May 14, 2013.
Don Mattingly announced on Tuesday that Kenley Jansen is now the Dodgers closer.
Now-replaced Brandon League blew a save Monday with a two-run lead for his fourth blown save of the season, bringing his ERA to 6.00.
The Dodgers handed him a three-year, $21 million deal in the offseason after believing "that he was the guy" they needed to close out games. Since he was acquired from Seattle last August, League had success in his last 23 appearances out of the pen with 23 strikeouts, two earned runs, 10 hits in 24.2 innings pitched.
In 2013, it has been a different story.
But Mattingly was against pulling League out of the closer position because of the commitment the club made to him.
"If I abandon him what do I do to that guy? Do I have a chance to lose that guy?" he said.
"Were going to need Brandon to win, if Brandon League does not pitch well we're not going to get where we want to go. If it's the ninth or eighth or seventh were going to need to get important outs."
So Brandon League is out, and Kenley Jansen is the new closer. Jansen has been used mainly in the eighth inning this season along with high-leverage situations when an out is most needed.
Since the series in Atlanta when he gave up two runs in back-to-back days, Jansen has not allowed a run or a walk in nine outings, while accumulating 13 strikeouts. Mattingly said Jansen has been more aggressive, and that you see it "right out of the gate on the pitch" since Atlanta.
So if Kenley Jansen is helming the ninth inning, who is going to keep the game's close in the seventh and eighth?
"That's a great question," Mattingly said. "No matter where you flip him you have to get the ball to him."
The Dodgers started the year thinking Belisario, Jansen and League would be their 7-8-9 guys, "but that hasn't gone very well."
Meanwhile, Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell have developed into the bullpen's more reliable relievers.
One thing that Mattingly kept coming back to was that if the Dodgers were scoring runs, the bullpen discussion would not be so prominent.
The Dodgers Monday had bases loaded and no outs in the eighth inning leading two runs, a perfect time for some insurance runs. But, they could not push any runs across the plate.
"We put ourselves in harm's way all the time by not getting that extra run," Mattingly said.
And it's true.
The bullpen is going to get roughed up, but they have not had the run protection to let anything score this season. It's a recipe for disaster no matter who is closing out the games.
It is time for Kenley Jansen to pitch the Dodgers' ninth innings, and the next two games against the Diamondbacks are very important for the Dodgers to win, if they plan to stay anywhere near the race for the NL West.