Me, a few weeks back, when it seemed unlikely the Dodgers would overtake the Mets for home field in the NLDS:
Home field adv doesn’t matter much, except that it prevents mgr from pulling “no closer in tie game on the road” business, so maybe it does
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) September 27, 2015
And that’s true. Home field advantage matters a little, but not nearly as much as fans like to think it does, especially in a short series. If the Dodgers win, they can’t point to home field as the reason. If the Mets lose, they can’t point to that as why. There’s a million other factors that go into who will win or lose this series, including stupid dumb luck. But it’s unavoidable to note that nearly every manager will treat things differently based on being home or on the road, lest anyone forget this picture-perfect Craig Kimbrel screencap from the 2013 NLDS, two years ago tomorrow:
So if home field does matter at all, it’s in the hope that Don Mattingly won’t needlessly wait on bringing in Kenley Jansen, at least in Games 1/2/5. In fact, with a whole lot of questions up and down the pitching staff outside of Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, and Zack Greinke (depending on how you feel about Chris Hatcher‘s late-season resurgence), and days off between Games 2 & 3 and Games 4 & 5, there’s really no excuse to not use Jansen as much as possible.
Because remember, Jansen pitched one inning in last year’s four-game NLDS, which is unacceptable considering how badly J.P. Howell and Scott Elbert hurt the team. (He struck out two of three in a perfect ninth to close out Game 2.) The year before, he threw 2.1 innings in a four-game NLDS (1.1 of which came in games the Dodgers would win by five and seven runs), and 2.1 innings in a six-game NLCS.
He’s faced 23 postseason hitters, and struck out 12 while walking one. He’s coming off yet another elite season, one where he had an 80/8 K/BB (!) in 52.1 innings. With the stakes high and the rest plentiful, there’s almost no amount of work that’s too much for him right now. For the record, he’s gone multiple innings 34 times in his career, though only once this year. In 47.2 innings, he’s got an 80/18 K/BB, allowing three earned runs.
I know Jansen’s not coming in for the sixth inning, and no one should expect or want that. But if there was ever a time to bring in one of the five best relievers in baseball in a non-traditional spot rather than letting Luis Avilan or Juan Nicasio risk tossing your season away, man, is this ever it.
More Jansen. More. As much as you can.