9/9/2013 9:24 P.M. ET
Jansen entrenched at closer as D-backs return
By Austin Laymance / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- Kenley Jansen has thrived as the Dodgers' closer since winning the job nearly three months ago, when the D-backs last visited Dodger Stadium.
Jansen has 25 saves this season, tied for a career high, and has converted his last 18 save opportunities since July 3. The right-hander leads National League relievers with a 0.80 WHIP, and ranks second in the Majors among relievers with 100 strikeouts.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been pleased with the way Jansen has taken ownership of the ninth-inning role this season, after being forced out of the same position last year because of a heart condition.
"When that door opens out there and he comes rolling out, the fans can feel it, too, that this is Kenley," Mattingly said. "There's an excitement about him. I think that's part of him maturing and being the guy."
Jansen took over for Brandon League as the closer in early June during a series against Arizona, when the Dodgers were at the bottom of the National League West and the D-backs were in first. Since then, the Dodgers have surged to the top of the division with Jansen routinely shutting the door in the ninth.
Still, Jansen had some difficult outings not long after he supplanted League. But Mattingly noticed a change in Jansen's demeanor and confidence after he nearly blew a save during a series Toronto following the All-Star break.
"It seemed like the next three or four times, it was like he wasn't going to let that happen," Mattingly said. "That's kind of really been, for me, the one true turning point of him just saying, 'I'm going to slam the door. I'm not going to leave anything open for question.'"
Mattingly isn't concerned with NL's best record
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly would like the National League's best record and the benefit of home-field advantage in the postseason, but he doesn't think that alone would guarantee a trip to the World Series.
"You basically have to win games everywhere," Mattingly said before Monday night's game against the D-backs. "It would be nice to be home. I don't think it has to be that way. I'm not going to sit here and say I don't want it. I would rather have it."
The Dodgers have a comfortable lead in the NL West and could clinch the division title by Saturday. Los Angeles is also within striking distance of Atlanta for the best record in the league.
But the Dodgers have tinkered with their rotation this month to give some starters extra rest, and Mattingly has shown he's willing to give his regular position players a break in order to keep them fresh for October. And while Dodger Stadium is a pitcher-friendly ballpark, Mattingly is confident his club can win on the road in the postseason.
"I look at [Clayton] Kershaw and [Zack] Greinke and those guys, they win everywhere," the manager said.
• Matt Kemp, whose rehab assignment for a sprained left ankle has been slowed by a hamstring issue, took batting practice in the cage at the Dodgers' Spring Training facility at Camelback Ranch-Glendale on Monday, manager Don Mattingly said.
• Chris Capuano, who was forced from Friday's start in the second inning because of a mild groin strain, played catch from 60 feet on Monday. Mattingly said the club does not have a date in mind for Capuano to get back on a mound, but said the left-hander "is moving forward."
• Sandy Koufax pitched the only perfect game in Dodgers history on this date in 1965. Koufax struck out 14 against the Cubs at Dodger Stadium.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.