By most reports, infielder Gavin Lux has been the Dodgers’ Most Untouchable Prospect (MUP?). Well and good, but the player they should be protecting like a silo full of uranium is Dustin May whose path to becoming the team’s closer of the future needs to begin now.
Los Angeles has plenty of infielders and infield prospects. The real position of need is still the bullpen. Specifically, the ninth inning.
It is with the greatest respect and appreciation for all that he has given Dodger fans and with considerable sadness that I write these words: Kenley … Jansen … is … done.
Jansen’s once lethal cut fastball is now hittable, making nearly every save opportunity a cliffhanger. His heart problems mean that every visit to Denver will bring up questions of “will he or won’t he pitch?” Even if he’s good for 30 saves, a team with eyes on a championship needs elite, not effective.
In 2019, Jansen was neither, sporting an ERA of 3.71 and eight blown saves, both career worsts. His WHIP was 1.063 and his WAR was 0.2. None of these are numbers you want to see from a guy cashing a $20 million paycheck.
Jansen is the franchise’s all-time saves leader with 301 and sits 28th all time. With a 31-save season, he could leapfrog about 12 people on the all-time list. Because he’s the guy on the bump in the ninth inning, Jansen (or his replacement) is also the one player on the team who be single-handedly responsible for preserving or blowing games (including in October).
Where Jansen is concerned, the team is in something of a fix. By not exercising his opt-out and testing free agency after the 2019 season, Jansen is owed $38 for the final two years of his contract. Loyalty counts for something in Dodgerland and Jansen deserves a gold watch rather than an ignominious march to the exits.
On the other hand, the signing of one time stud closer Blake Treinen suggests that the team wants a safety net in place in case Jansen continues his downward spiral.
Treinen will cost the Dodgers $10 this year. If he bounces back, he’ll earn a lot more in free agency. The Dodgers likely will not overpay two bullpen aces (Remember 2014? Brian Wilson’s ungodly second year in in Dodger blue?).
The solution is grooming the next closer if not for this year, then certainly for 2021. That’s Dustin May, a 6’6” redhead with a power sinker and nerves of steel.
Dustin May, choose your entrance music, please.