Why SF Giants shouldn’t view a Jansen save opportunity as a Game 5 death knell

SAN FRANCISCO — If the Giants’ season is down to its final few outs on Thursday night, there’s a great chance Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen will be in the game.

Is it possible the Giants would want their longtime nemesis on the mound with the NLDS in the balance?

The answer isn’t as simple as it used to be.

Jansen has 35 career saves against the Giants and was as sharp as ever when he struck out the side on 14 pitches in Game 3 on Monday night. But the Giants appeared to have the hard-throwing Jansen figured out when he failed to complete a full inning in three Giants comeback wins earlier this season.

Is that something the Giants can analyse and potentially recreate if needed in Game 5 in what might be the most important inning of their season?

Giants manager Gabe Kapler said his philosophy is to look at a pitchers’ most recent outings, their season as a whole and even a look back at their history when devising a hitting approach.

“And then I look at those three buckets, kind of put it all together,” Kapler said.

The Giants have a lot of data to consider when it comes to Jansen, especially looking at this season. Jansen has pitched nine times against the Giants, counting Game 3, and there was no middle ground.

In the Giants’ three comeback wins Jansen pitched in, he allowed 10 runs over 1 ⅔ innings (a 48.60 ERA) and walked five. Jansen didn’t allow a run in the six other appearances, striking out nine with three walks.

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Jansen has been one of the most successful closers in major league history, racking up 350 career saves in the regular season (13th in MLB history) and another 18 in the playoffs.

The 34-year-old typically has been tough on the Giants as well. Game 3 was a reminder when he overpowered Mike Yastrzemski, Buster Posey and Crawford in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 1-0 win at Dodger Stadium.

But the glimmer of optimism for the Giants heading into a possible doomsday scenario against Jansen is that for first time in the more than a decade that they have been facing him, they experienced a burst of consistent success against the three-time All-Star.

Between late May and late July, when the NL West race really started to heat up, the Giants pinned three losses on the Dodgers in a span of five appearances Jansen was called on to record the final outs.

They weren’t the only ones. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Jansen struggled so badly during the middle of the season that his job as the Dodgers’ ninth-inning specialist appeared in serious jeopardy.

The Giants had a big part in that turbulence.

On May 28, a day after recording an 11-pitch save against the Giants,  Jansen entered in the 10th inning of a 5-5 tie and only got two outs, yielding an RBI single to Lamonte Wade Jr. and a two-run double to Evan Longoria in San Francisco’s 8-5 win.

On July 21, Jansen entered in the ninth inning with …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports


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