Posted on August 21, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Los Angeles Dodgers World Series Kenley Jansen

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The Los Angeles Dodgers got the most pleasant of surprises on Monday. Closer Kenley Jansen was activated from the DL weeks before he was expected back. He was expected to miss a month after going to the hospital with an irregular heartbeat while in Denver earlier this month. However, he ended up missing only 11 days before being cleared to return. Jansen is now confident he’ll be able to pitch the rest of the season without a problem.

This was not the first time Jansen had issues with an irregular heartbeat. He missed nearly a month of action in 2011 while on blood thinners after suffering from an irregular heartbeat. It initially looked as though Jansen would need to undergo similar treatment this time around. However, after Jansen passed a series of tests on Monday, he was taken off medication and cleared to pitch without restrictions. He’s now blaming the episode earlier this month on dehydration.

“If I stay hydrated, I’ll be fine,” Jansen said Monday.

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Jansen will use a smartphone app to monitor his heart on a daily basis. But he’s not worried about his heart moving forward. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also has no plans to treat Jansen any differently.

“I’m not thinking of my heart. If it goes, it goes,” said Jansen. “I’m ready to go. Ain’t no time here. We’re two games back. Thirty-seven games left, we’ve got to go. I don’t need to be babied. I’m not going to be babied. A four-out save, three-out save, five-out save, I’m ready.”

Losing Jansen for a month could have been a crushing blow for the Dodgers. On the season, he has 32 saves a 2.15 ERA. Even with Jansen having another strong season, the Los Angeles bullpen is middle of the pack in the National League. In the 10 games that Jansen missed while on the DL, the bullpen blew a lead or failed to hold a tie eight times. The Dodgers lost six of those games, falling to third place in the NL West, two games back of the Diamondbacks.

With Jansen coming back early, the Dodgers get both a physical and psychological lift. With their rotation getting healthy recently, the Dodgers were able to move Kenta Maeda and Ross Stripling to the bullpen. Stripling has since gone to the DL with a back injury. But with Jansen back in the closer’s role and Maeda part of the bullpen, the Los Angeles bullpen is much deeper than they were a few weeks ago.

“To have him at the back changes the way they’re going to manage and how our guys are going to be managed as well,” says Roberts. “It’s a big lift, especially how this last week went. I know he’s been antsy. For the guys to look around and know he’s on the roster and when we do have a lead the game will be closed up, it’s uplifting.”

As much as Jansen going to the DL was a negative game-changer for the Dodgers, getting him back ahead of schedule could be just as impactful but in a positive way. He’s undoubtedly one of the best closers in the game, and the Dodgers have relied on him heavily this season. The Dodgers are obviously in a dogfight with the Diamondbacks and Rockies inside the NL West. But with Jansen back from the DL, they have to like their chances a whole lot more.

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