HOUSTON -- Start with this -- the Los Angeles Dodgers tried to strengthen their late-inning relief. They tried all year. They recognized the potential problem, spent big dollars on Joe Kelly over the winter, gave Pedro Baez more opportunities, promoted Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin during the season and attempted to trade for Felipe Vazquez before adding left-hander Adam Kolarek in a deal with the Rays. The Dodgers saw the cracks in Kenley Jansen's performance, and manager Dave Roberts had conversations with him.
But in spite of their efforts, that shutdown setup option eluded them, and when Roberts and the Dodgers reached the eighth inning of what turned out to be their final game of the year, the potential solutions were imperfect. They didn't have someone like the Rays' Nick Anderson, or the Yankees' Zack Britton. Kelly's command was erratic and unpredictable, even on his best days. The days of Jansen dominating for two innings are apparently over. May pitched effectively in relief, but wasn't entrenched as a high-leverage option.