Flash back, if you will, to Game 5 of the NLDS between the Nationals and Dodgers. The Dodgers emerged 4-3 victors of that game and earned the right to advance to the NLCS to face the Cubs.
Game 5 featured Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen coming in to pitch the seventh inning. Jansen got into a bit of trouble in the seventh but ultimately escaped. He worked a scoreless eighth and returned to the mound in the ninth, but after issuing back-to-back one-out walks, he exited the game and ace Clayton Kershaw entered. Jansen threw 51 pitches, by far surpassing his previous career-high.
Kershaw, who started Game 4 and threw 110 pitches, needed only seven pitches to close out the ninth in Game 5, getting Daniel Murphy to pop out before getting Wilmer Difo to fan at a curve in the dirt for strike three.
In a postseason that has been under a microscope due to controversial bullpen management, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts looked like a genius. Nationals manager Dusty Baker, however, wasn’t on board.
So off the Dodgers went to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in the NLCS. The Dodgers lost Game 1 due to a disastrous eighth inning for reliever Joe Blanton. Jansen — nor Kershaw — made an appearance.
In Game 2, however, Kershaw and Jansen were the only two pitches the Dodgers needed to even up the series at one game apiece. Kershaw went seven innings, allowing just two hits and a walk with six strikeouts on 84 pitches. Jansen entered in the eighth and recorded a two-inning save, facing the minimum with four strikeouts on 18 pitches.
Seems like they’re doing just fine.