Kenley Jansen was hospitalized in Denver earlier this week due to an irregular heartbeat. He missed a month last season with the very same issue and he’ll soon find out whether his recent scare will cost him the rest of the season.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Jansen threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Friday and plans to play catch today. He’s scheduled to see a heart specialist on Tuesday, who will tell him whether he must continue taking a a blood-thinning medication. His medication prevents clots and strokes, but can also cause severe bleeding. He could bleed to death if he was struck by a baseball, so he isn’t even allowed to sit in the dugout while taking the medication.
If Jansen is cleared by the specialist, he could pitch again as soon as next Friday against the Giants. However, if he is instructed to continue taking the medication, he will not be allowed to throw for four weeks. That would essentially end his season.
Health obviously comes first here, but it’s still a tough break for Jansen, who stepped into the closer role at the end of April and has a 2.54 ERA and 86/19 K/BB ratio over 56 1/3 innings this season. Brandon League and Ronald Belisario are expected to split save chances during his absence.
The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.
After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.
But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.
- They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
- They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
- They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
- They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.
The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.
Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.