We just saw the longest game in Chase Field history, a meandering 15-inning affair that featured 15 runs, 33 hits, a slew of momentum swings.
But all anyone wants to talk about is slumping Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen.
The Diamondbacks ultimately walked off Monday’s win in the bottom of the 15th, scoring two runs and ending the fun. But Jansen’s meltdown in the ninth is the key takeaway.
Jansen struggled for his second straight outing, allowing a three-run homer to Chris Owings in the bottom of the ninth. Jansen picked up a loss three days earlier, serving a gopher to Joe Panik. With respect to Owings and Panik, who are bona-fide MLB players, we’re not talking about Stanton and Harper here. Owings has a .392 career slugging percentage, while Panik is at .412. (Here’s the Owings homer, a nothing fastball that was crushed.)
Jansen’s velocity is dragging out of the gate — he’s at 90.6 mph on average for his fastball, down from a career mark of 93.0 mph. He was struggling to get out of the 80s against the Giants. It’s not uncommon for some pitchers to struggle with their velocity in April, but this is enough of a gap to cause an extra layer of concern. Jansen also battled a tight hamstring in March.
It’s common for teams to whistle a happy tune after a loss like this, and that’s what the Dodgers did. Here’s the key part of Ken Gurnick’s game story for the Dodgers team website.
Jansen said he’s healthy and is working through some mechanical kinks with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Manager Dave Roberts said, from everything he hears from his staff, Jansen is “100 percent healthy.”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Slow start,” said Jansen. “Owings got me. It stinks, but nobody’s going to feel sorry for me. Nobody wants to get beat, nobody wants to blow saves, nobody wants to lose games. Today stinks, it stinks to see Wilmer go five innings, he doesn’t deserve that loss. It happens. What can I do? I just have to bounce back and help the Dodgers win tomorrow.”
Josh Fields looms as an interesting speculative pickup for Jansen worriers and/or save speculators. Fields has three shutdown innings thus far this year (1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K), and he’s worked the eighth inning in each instance. The eighth-inning man isn’t always the closer-in-waiting, but it’s often a good place to start. Fields was steady in his age-31 season last year (2.84 ERA, 57 IP, 15 BB, 60 K), though his peripheral stats did suggest an ERA over 4.
Fields was an active pickup in the overnight, but he’s still unclaimed freight in 97 percent of Yahoo leagues. If you want other options to consider, left-handers Scott Alexander and Tony Cingrani are effective arms, and righty J.T. Chargois was a closer for much of his minor-league career. Fields is still my pick, but we might have to meander through several options here. Pedro Baez is also on the roster.
Or maybe Jansen will come around and make a sad song better. Pitchers commonly have slumps and mechanical failings and often times it’s nothing; that said, if we don’t at least consider what’s possible here, we’re not doing our job. Jansen’s leash is as long as any closer’s in the game, but perhaps there’s a physical problem at play. Place your bets, save chasers.
• The Pirates seemed to have Lance Lynn’s number when they were NL Central combatants, and apparently that ownership still applies now, even with Lynn shipped to the American League. Lynn had a messy first turn at Pittsburgh (4 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 6 BB, 3 K), with the critical blow a Colin Moran grand-slam in the first inning.
It’s hard to survive a six-walk afternoon, but I am willing to give Lynn a pass for this turn. It was his first start of the year. He was one of the late signings in the offseason. Perhaps the 40-degree weather at Pittsburgh bothered him, though Lynn refused to make an excuse of that. No one expected an ace when Lynn signed with the Twins, but I’m still figuring he’ll be an effective mid-rotation fantasy arm, someone who can produce an ERA in the mid-3s.
Lynn hosts the Mariners and White Sox in his next two starts.
• Let’s give a nod to Brian Anderson, who showed up on the Glengarry Glen Ross leads on Monday afternoon, then homered later in the day against Boston. Anderson is off to a 7-for-21 start, with that homer, four walks, just three strikeouts. That’s a .333/.462/.524 slash. He was a .275/.361/.492 man in the minors last year, his age-24 season, splitting time between Double- and Triple-A. The Marlins have slotted him fourth or fifth in every game.
Steve Lyons is on NESN snarking on the Marlins lineup. “I don’t know any of these names.” Buddy, your actual job is to read up on the lineup before you host the pregame show. They’re MLB players, don’t write them off like they don’t matter.
— Britni de la Cretaz ⚾️ (@britnidlc) April 2, 2018
Maybe Steve Lyons isn’t picking up Anderson, but fantasy owners need to know every regular on every team. There’s potential rotisserie value in all 30 clubhouses. Anderson’s ownership rate lags at seven percent in Yahoo leagues. And while you’re in Miami, consider the case for Derek Dietrich (the poor man’s Marwin Gonzalez), too — a position-flexible guy who has some pop and the No. 2 spot in the batting order.