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Dodgers

Dodgers Dugout: What to do about Kenley Jansen

Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins
Kenley Jansen
(Mark Brown / Getty Images)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and if the Kentucky Derby winner can be disqualified and the second-place horse named the winner, is it possible to do that for the last two World Series?

Kenley Jansen

My reaction to Sunday’s loss? Like I said last week, this is Kenley Jansen now. He has lost some velocity and some movement, so if his command is a little off, he is going to give up home runs. He doesn’t seem like a pitcher who should be pitching on consecutive days anymore, especially three consecutive days, but I haven’t looked up the stats yet to know if that is an accurate feeling or not. And while we are angry about him blowing Sunday’s game, let’s not forget that he saved the wins on Friday and Saturday.

Is it frustrating to see him come in and not dominate like he did before? Sure. But at that time he was pitching at a level few have reached in baseball history. No team has a dominant closer like that anymore. The Dodgers have defeated more than one good closer this year. And that’s what the Dodgers have now. A good closer who is no longer at the elite level.

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Will the Dodgers sign Craig Kimbrel? Well, if any team signs Kimbrel before the June first-year player draft, then that teams owes the Boston Red Sox a draft pick. The Dodgers guard their draft picks like precious gems. I don’t see the Dodgers signing Kimbrel until after the June 3 draft, when they would no longer owe the Red Sox a pick.

Also keep in mind that Kimbrel wants to be a closer, and according to some reports, is looking for a deal in the three-year, $40-million range. It’s unlikely the Dodgers will want to do that, so someone, either Kimbrel or the Dodgers, is going to have to change their stance for this to happen at all.

It’s easy to tear your hair out and render your garments after Jansen blows a game. But after you are done being angry, take a step back and look at the big picture. What are the Dodgers’ options? Is Jansen now a horrible pitcher, or should we give him credit for the games he saved? Acknowledge the weakness but don’t just focus on those to the exclusion of all other things.

One of the jobs of the manager of a team is to put his players in the best possible position to succeed. Dave Roberts didn’t do that Sunday. He brought in a pitcher, coming off heart surgery, to face a team for the third straight day. Jansen should have been given the day off. Basically, he blew that game and will be unavailable tonight against Atlanta. If he had sat out Sunday, he would be refreshed and available tonight. Instead, he loses Sunday and he won’t pitch tonight, meaning Roberts basically has taken a chance at sacrificing two games in order to win one.

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Top prospects

I had a choice today of writing about the Dodgers’ top 10 prospects (which I have been wanting to do for a couple of weeks, but news kept getting in the way) or writing about how bad Joe Kelly is, but we all know how bad he is, so why write the obvious?

So, let’s take a look at the Dodgers’ top 10 prospects. Some sites still list Alex Verdugo as a prospect, but I won’t.

1. Keibert Ruiz, C, 20: Ruiz is at double-A Tulsa this season and grades out as a better prospect than Will Smith, who is at triple-A Oklahoma City because he is four years younger and better offensively. Ruiz is a switch-hitter who has amazing contact skills, rarely striking out (five times in 82 at-bats this season). He has excellent pitch framing skills, and we all know how the Dodgers love their pitch framers. His arm is average. In five minor league seasons he has hit .305/.353/.432 and this season he is hitting .244/.300/.305. He will probably reach the majors some time next season

2. Dustin May, RHP, 21: May is also at double-A Tulsa and is 2-2 with a 3.25 ERA so far this season, with 33 strikeouts and nine walks in 27.2 innings. He is tall (6-6) and thin (180 pounds). His fastball reaches 97 mph and he has a plus curveball and cutter. In four minor league seasons he is 20-14 with a 3.52 ERA with 317 strikeouts, 69 walks and 303 hits allowed in 324.2 innings. He will probably reach the majors next season.

3. Tony Gonsolin, RHP, 24: Gonsolin led Dodgers minor leaguers last season in wins (10), ERA (2.60) and strikeouts (155 in 128 innings). He was a reliever with a fastball that reached 100 mph, but he really came into his own when the Dodgers made him a starter in 2017. He has four pitches: A fastball, splitter, slider and curve, all thrown at different speeds ranging from 80 to 100. He is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA at triple-A Oklahoma City this season and 19-11 with a 3.14 ERA and 277 strikeouts in 238 innings in four minor-league seasons. With the way the Dodgers shuttle relievers around, it is entirely possible we will see him in the majors this season.

4. Will Smith, C, 24: Smith is solid defensively who hits for a low average, but walks a lot and has power. He can also play third base if needed. He is hitting .237/.359/.447 at triple-A Oklahoma City and .236/.344/.422 in four minor-league seasons. He hit 19 homers with double-A Tulsa last season. He could reach the majors this season, but probably won’t until 2020.

5. Gavin Lux, SS, 21: I’ll be honest, I’ve seen Lux play a few times at Class A Rancho Cucamonga, and I struggle to put him this high. But, scouts have seen him far more than I have, so I’ll take their word for it. Lux made 61 errors in his first 208 games at shortstop in the minors. His power numbers have surged this season at double-A Tulsa (.289/.327/.489 with 10 extra-base hits in 90 at-bats). He is hitting .288/.365/.436 in four minor league seasons. I don’t think he’ll stick at shortstop though and will end up at second base.

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6. Jeter Downs, SS, 20: Downs was acquired in the Yasiel Puig/Matt Kemp trade. He can also play second base and some scouts think he will wind up as a center fielder. He is off to a slow start with his new organization, hitting .208/.271/.393 with Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He is fast and can steal bases and is hitting .252/.344/.406 in three minor-league seasons. He won’t make the majors until 2021 at the earliest.

7. Mitchell White, RHP, 24: White would have been higher on this list, but he stalled at double-A Tulsa last season, with a 4.53 ERA and more hits (114) than innings pitched (105.1). So far this season at Tulsa he is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA with 12 hits allowed and 21 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. He has a 97-mph fastball, a slider and a curve and it’s possible he could make the majors this season if there are some injuries.

8. DJ Peters, OF, 23: Peters can hit the ball a long, long way and has as much raw power as anyone I have seen at Rancho. Last season he had 23 doubles and 29 homers at Tulsa, but his batting average has taken a hit as he has moved up in the minors. This season at Tulsa, he is hitting .221/.292/.379, worse than last season’s numbers there. He strikes out a lot (192 times in 559 plate appearances last season. He has a lot of upside, but he needs to work on his contact skills.

9. Edwin Rios, 3B/1B, 25: Rios is a left-handed hitter whose biggest drawback is that he is dreadfully slow. Remember how slow Adrian Gonzalez was? Rios make Gonzalez look like Usain Bolt. But Rios can hit, with a career .297/.345/.518 average in five minor league seasons. He could make the majors this season, but his path to a permanent spot with the Dodgers is blocked by guys named Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger. Ouch. A smart, struggling AL team could snatch him up and see what he can do as a DH, since he has 30-homer potential.

10. Connor Wong, C/2B, 22: Wong didn’t start playing catcher regularly until his final two seasons in college, so he has some work to do behind the plate before he will be considered a good defender. He is fast and has a lot of power. He had 19 homers at Rancho Cucamonga last season and is on pace to surpass that this season. His age is working against him though. He turns 23 in a couple of weeks and is already older than most player at Class A ball.

New catcher

The Dodgers signed former Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud on Sunday and put him on the active roster, sending Matt Beaty to the minors to make room for him. This gives the Dodgers three catchers on the roster. Does this mean that Austin Barnes or Russell Martin are hitting the bench? Not necessarily. The Dodgers have shown a willingness in the past to carry three catchers, mainly because with such a short bench they want to be able to use one as a pinch-hitter and still have a solid backup catcher available.

“We need to get Travis going and see more,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Once we do that, then it will give us a bit more clarity on how we want to use him. We’ve always liked him behind the plate, the way he receives and the quality of his at-bats. He’s been a victim of injury the past few years. Great clubhouse guy. And it gives us more options with that right-handed bat off the bench.”

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D’Arnaud was two for 23 this season when the Mets designated him for assignment. They will pay most of the $3.5 million that d’Arnaud is owed the rest of this season.

D’Arnaud is a career .242/.303/.401 hitter in 407 games with the Mets, for a 94 OPS+. He hit 16 homers in 2017 before injuries derailed his career.

Matt Kemp released

The Cincinnati Reds released Matt Kemp on Saturday. Kemp was on the injured list with a broken rib and wasn’t hitting before he got hurt (.200/.210/.283).

After he was released, I was inundated by emails from readers hoping the Dodgers would sign him: I have one thing to say about that: Nononononononononononononononononononononononono.

Look, Kemp was great the first half last season. He earned his All-Star bid and kept the Dodgers from totally falling out of the NL West race. He obviously was thrilled to be back in L.A., worked hard in the offseason and was able to have one more brief shining moment in the majors.

But if you look at Kemp in the seasons just before that, and Kemp in the second half of last season (as well as so far this season), it’s obvious that he just can’t play that well anymore. He has an arthritic hip and can’t run. His fielding is atrocious. He doesn’t draw walks. The Dodgers don’t need someone like that. With their short bench, they don’t need a guy who would basically serve as just a pinch-hitter. Hopefully, an AL team will pick him up and give him a shot as DH.

Where are they now?

I’m starting a new, much-requested feature soon: Where are they now? Here’s how it will work: You send me players that you are curious about, I’ll find out where they are now and write about it. Hopefully I’ll even be able to talk to the player and do a short interview. If it’s an easy answer, I’ll just email you back directly. For example, I have had several people over the years ask me the whereabouts of John Roseboro, not realizing he passed away in 2002. If you ask me something like that, I’ll just email you directly. If not, I’ll write about it here.

So, email me the players you’d like an update on. Click here to email me. Feel free to list more than one. The feature will debut when I get enough responses and have enough answers ready to make sure I can do this weekly. I hope it is something most of you will enjoy.

NL West standings

A look at the NL West standings after Sunday’s games:

Dodgers, 22-14, ---

Arizona, 20-14, 1 GB

San Diego, 19-16, 2.5 GB

Colorado, 16-19, 5.5 GB

San Francisco, 15-19, 6 GB

If the playoffs started today, Arizona would play at St. Louis in the wild-card game, with the winner taking on Chicago in one NLDS. The other NLDS would feature Philadelphia at the Dodgers.

In the AL, Cleveland would play at New York in the wild-card game, with the winner taking on Tampa Bay in one ALDS. The other ALDS would feature Houston at Minnesota.

These names seem familiar

What recently departed Dodgers are doing around the league (through Saturday):

Brian Dozier, Nationals, .194/.307/.357, 73 OPS+

Kyle Farmer, Reds, .219/.278/.594, 120 OPS+

Logan Forsythe, Rangers, .289/.388/.470, 121 OPS+

Yasmani Grandal, Brewers, .264/.352/.453, 111 OPS+

Daniel Hudson, Blue Jays, 2-1, 3.68 ERA

Tim Locastro, Diamondbacks, .282/.474/.286, 106 OPS+

Matt Kemp, Reds, .200/.210/.283, 28 OPS+. Released by the Reds.

Manny Machado, Padres, .244/.326/.463, 113 OPS+

Yasiel Puig, Reds, .207/.242/.371, 58 OPS+

Zac Rosscup, Mariners, 2-0, 1.74 ERA

Alex Wood, Reds, on IL with sore back

TV schedule

KTLA will televise five more Dodger games during the season. They are:

Saturday, May 11, vs. Washington, 6 p.m.

Monday, May 27, vs. New York Mets, 5 p.m.

Thursday, May 30, vs. New York Mets, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, June 1, vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m.

Saturday, June 15, vs. Chicago Cubs, 6 p.m.

Up next

Today: Atlanta (Kevin Gausman) at Dodgers (Walker Buehler), 7 p.m.

Tuesday: Atlanta (*Max Fried) at Dodgers (*Hyun-Jin Ryu), 7 p.m.

Wednesday: Atlanta (Mike Foltynewicz) at Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw), 6:45 p.m.

*-left-handed

And finally

Game 6 of the 1981 World Series between the Dodgers and Yankees. Watch it here.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston.


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