Posted on August 10, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Dodgers are set to lose close Kenley Jansen for the next month. The Dodgers announced Friday morning that Jansen is likely to miss a month of action because of an irregular heartbeat. The loss is a huge blow to the Dodgers, who find themselves neck and neck with the Arizona Diamondbacks atop the NL West.
Jansen went to the hospital prior to Thursday’s game in Colorado. He was soon released from the hospital but immediately flew back to Los Angeles to meet with his cardiologist. This is not the first time Jansen has had this issue. He missed a month of action in 2011 while taking blood-thinning medication to treat an irregular heartbeat. Jansen also had a problem with an irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath while pitching in Colorado in 2012.
“Any time you’re talking about the heart, we obviously have to be very careful with it,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Then we’re talking about altitude, so that’s why we wanted to be proactive and get him back (to Los Angeles).”
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By all accounts, Jansen’s overall health is not in any immediate danger. He will likely require a course of medication similar to what he took during the 2011 season. In that instance, he ended up missing less than a month of action. That should give the Dodgers confidence that Jansen will be back in early September.
Nevertheless, it’s a bad time for the Dodgers to be losing their closer. Jansen was in the midst of another outstanding season. He’s currently tied for the National League lead in saves. Jansen has collected 32 saves in 35 opportunities while posting a 2.15 ERA. His absence over the next month leaves a huge hole at the back end of the Los Angeles bullpen.
Lefty Scott Alexander is likely to step in as the team’s primary closer for the time being. He earned his second save of the season Thursday night while Jansen was unavailable. Pedro Baez and J.T. Chargois should also be in line to handle setup duties in front of Alexander.
However, Jansen will soon join a laundry list of Los Angeles relievers who are currently on the DL. The likes of Daniel Hudson, Josh Fields, Tony Cingrani, and Erik Goeddel would all prove useful while Jansen is out. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, all are currently on the DL, depriving them of some much-needed bullpen depth.
Even with Jansen having another strong season, the Los Angeles bullpen is only in the middle of the pack in the National League. Without him, amidst a slew of other injuries, the bullpen could become a concern for the Dodgers over the next month. It may become necessary for the Dodgers to add help via a waiver trade or two to help shore things up until they can get healthy.
As it stands, the Dodgers and tied with the Diamondbacks atop the NL West. They are also in a three-way tie with Arizona and Atlanta for the second wild-card spot. Meanwhile, the Rockies, Cardinals, Pirates, and Nationals are all within five games in the wild-card race. With the playoff picture that congested, the Dodgers losing Jansen for a month could end up making a significant impact in the playoff race coming down the stretch.