Kenley Jansen pitched twice on last week’s six-game trip to Miami and Atlanta, even though there were no save opportunities. That’s the benefit of the Dodgers’ plan to use Jansen an average of once a series through September, a regimen manager Dave Roberts believes will best prepare his closer for the playoffs.
“If Doc and I hadn’t come to an agreement, I wouldn’t have pitched on this last trip,” Jansen said. “I’ve got to keep pitching so I can find my rhythm.”
The drawbacks of the plan, which Jansen and Roberts devised Aug. 10: There will be save situations over the final six weeks in which Jansen is not summoned. And he will pitch in non-save situations if he needs the work.
“Yeah, it’s going to be weird,” said Jansen, who entered Tuesday with a career-high 3.59 ERA in 47 games. “But you have to trick your mind, you know? When it comes to playoffs, there are going to be crazy situations. It’s not always about the saves. You have to be ready for anything.”
A closer’s workload is sporadic by nature. A team can have save situations in four consecutive games and then go a week without one. Roberts is using the luxury of a huge division lead to regulate Jansen’s appearances in hopes the right-hander will find better rhythm and command and be fresh in October.
“Kenley and I have had clear conversations about what’s going to prepare him best for October, and that’s consistent work,” Roberts said. “I can’t say enough about him as a teammate to potentially miss out on a few save opportunities to make sure he puts himself and our club in the best position for October.”
Jansen allowed one hit and struck out three in two innings against the Marlins and Braves last week. Of his 22 pitches, 18 were strikes.
“My command was good in Miami; in Atlanta it was on point,” Jansen said. “You have to face competition. You do a lot of things in the bullpen, but it’s not the same as a game.”
Outfielder Alex Verdugo, out since Aug. 6 because of a right-oblique strain, has not resumed baseball activities in Arizona and is still experiencing pain in the rib cage. Roberts said Verdugo won’t be activated until Sept. 1 at the earliest.
Rich Hill, out since June 20 because of a left forearm strain, extended his long-toss program to 150 feet Tuesday, the final step before he throws off a mound.
“I didn’t see any signs that he was on the injured list,” Roberts said. “It was coming out well. He was letting it rip today, and he was very encouraged.”
Ross Stripling (right biceps tendinitis) threw 25 pitches in the bullpen Tuesday and said he had “no issues” with an injury that has sidelined him since July 25. Stripling expects to throw a two-inning simulated game this week before starting a minor league rehabilitation stint.
In addition to activating utility players Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez from the injured list, the Dodgers recalled reliever Dylan Floro from triple-A Oklahoma City. To make room for the players, outfielder Kyle Garlick and reliever Casey Sadler were optioned to triple-A and infielder Khristopher Negron was placed on the injured list because of neck stiffness. … The Dodgers completed the first phase of their safety net expansion, heightening the existing netting that runs to the end of each dugout by eight feet. The second phase, scheduled to be completed by Sept. 2, is to extend the netting down both foul lines.