The Dodgers held on to defeat the Padres, 6-5, in Game 2 of the National League Division Series Wednesday night at Globe Life Field. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sent in Kenley Jansen to close the game in the ninth.

Jansen — who previously had recorded 13 straight scoreless playoff innings coming in the ninth for L.A. — entered the game with a three-run lead before surrendering two runs on three hits. He struck out the first batter he faced, but then allowed three of the next four batters to reach.

With the Dodgers’ three-run lead squashed down to just one run with two outs, Roberts pulled Jansen to bring in reliever Joe Kelly to close out the game. It wasn’t clean, but Kelly got the job done. After issuing full-count walks with two outs to Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado to load the bases for Eric Hosmer, Kelly retired Hosmer on a groundout to end the game and record his first save this postseason.

After the win, Roberts was asked about Jansen’s role in the ninth inning moving forward. He was noncommittal about Jansen as the team’s closer, explaining that he’s going to need to think it over.

“I thought there were some good throws in there,” Roberts told reporters after the game. “There was a dropped third strike with Grisham and he ended up getting a base hit. I’m going to think through it. It was just a lot for (Jansen), 30 pitches to get two outs. I know that he’s disappointed as well. I’ll keep thinking through it.”

Entering Wednesday, Jansen owned a 1.94 ERA over 51 postseason innings, but it could be time for the 33-year-old to move into a new relief role. During his outing, he struggled to get above 90 mph on his 30 pitches. Earlier this season, Jansen was averaging 93-94 mph. Our own Mike Axisa explored the issue of Jansen’s dropping velocity further, after the Dodgers-Brewers NL Wild Card Series.

Jansen has been in a decline for each of the last two seasons, and the veteran closer spent time at the acclaimed pitching facility Driveline this offseason trying to recapture his cutter. He also was diagnosed with the coronavirus ahead of the 2020 regular season. He was able to return in time to lock down the Dodgers’ closer role, but Jansen told reporters in August that he felt his conditioning had not yet fully returned following his bout with COVID-19. 

Jansen has had multiple heart surgeries and has missed time with atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes the heart to beat out of rhythm. Regarding COVID-19, Jansen would be considered a high-risk individual due to his past heart issues. 

The Dodgers and Padres will return to the field for Game 3 Thursday night. With a win, the Dodgers can advance to the NL Championship Series for the fourth time in five seasons. First pitch is scheduled for 9:08 p.m. ET. 


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