Unconventional bullpen use pays off in win

Dodgers lean on six relievers after a short start by Hill

Unconventional bullpen use pays off in win

LOS ANGELES -- Kenley Jansen came back to the Dodgers for this very moment. So when his skipper Dave Roberts told him on Saturday to be ready for a possible six-out save situation, Jansen was ready.

"I've been doing a lot of running, a lot of heavy lifting," Jansen said. "That's what I did last month. Just build my stamina so I can continue to go two, maybe three innings. I'm ready for it. I did it last year. I know it's going to come again this year. Anything they want me to do for this team to help us win a championship, I'm in."

Game Date Results Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 6 LAD 9, ARI 5 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 7 LAD 8, ARI 5 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 9 LAD 3, ARI 1 Watch

Luckily for the Dodgers, they only needed him for five outs, as he closed the door on the D-backs en route to Los Angeles taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile with an 8-5 victory.

Pitchers in October are usually stretched beyond their limits following the regular season, and Roberts mixed and matched his relievers to navigate through a potent D-backs lineup.

Jansen recorded his third career one-plus inning postseason save and was one piece of the puzzle for the Dodgers with the club using six relievers to get to win after Rich Hill labored through four innings.

Two former starters, Brandon Morrow and Kenta Maeda, were relied on in high-leverage situations. Maeda made the switch to the bullpen in late September, while Morrow went through the transformation over the last year.

Roberts called on Maeda in the fifth and the starter-turned-reliever only needed nine pitches to dispose of A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt in the fifth and then struck out J.D. Martinez in the sixth.

Maeda K's Martinez in the 6th

"In terms of facing those three, I wasn't surprised," Maeda said. "With the postseason, I have to be available to pitch in any situation. It was a lot of pressure and I was a little more nervous."

The Dodgers then handed the ball to left-hander Tony Watson.

"That was the plan," Roberts said about Maeda's outing. "He's really been a righty killer. But Kenta threw the heck out of it."

Roberts said he didn't want Maeda to face any of the D-backs' left-handed hitters and indicated that his role going forward would be a specialist to get out right-handed hitters. Watson allowed two singles and then gave way to Morrow, who allowed a three-run homer, his first of the season.

Morrow bounced back to retire the side and limit the damage and Jansen would come in the eighth for a five-out save.

"[Tony] Cingrani came in and got a big out for us and Kenta," Roberts said. "Brandon made one bad pitch, but outside of that was very good, and Kenley for five outs. So that's how we had to mix and match today, but credit to the entire team."

Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.