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Missing the playoffs is unfamiliar territory to Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen, and he hates the feeling

Kenley Jansen's first season in Boston will finish by bringing an end to his 10-year run of making the playoffs.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Kenley Jansen isn’t used to going home before the postseason. Every year since 2013, when the closer was a member of the Dodgers, Jansen has played postseason baseball. When his tenure in Los Angeles came to a close following the 2021 season, Jansen transitioned to Atlanta, punching his ticket to the postseason with the Braves last year. Jansen, now in the first year of a two-year deal with the Red Sox, will miss the playoffs for the first time in a decade.

“It’s hard,” said Jansen before Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the White Sox in the second game of a three-game set at Fenway Park. “I ain’t going to lie about it. But you got to be here for your teammates. Got to be that grown, grown man. That vet. And of course it sucks. But at the same time, you have to stick together as a team.”


Jansen, who was reinstated from the COVID-19 injured list Saturday, wasn’t at the stadium when chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was fired Sept. 14. Jansen has made it clear that he wants to play for a winner. That’s why he came to Boston in the first place. Whoever replaces Bloom will be challenged to meet not just Jansen’s standard, but the market, too, that will experience three last-place finishes in Bloom’s four-year run.

“They got to figure it out,” Jansen said of the Sox front office. “They know what we need. I know the next one coming in will know what we need. I am going to encourage all these young guys to work their butts off.”

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What does Jansen view as a necessity for the Red Sox?

Pitching depth,” he said. “Pitching depth is important. It’s not just going out and getting superstars. We saw it. You can’t help injuries. I feel like injuries hit us right at the All-Star break, and we were thin on pitching. I think that’s when fatigue hit everybody. That’s my opinion. But who am I? I’m a player saying that. But that’s just my experience. Being on great teams, they have good pitching.”


Red Sox players believed they were just a couple of arms away from making a real run. But Bloom, citing the team’s low odds, decided not to add much at the trade deadline.

Jansen’s experience with his former clubs included proven executives running the baseball operations department, from Andrew Friedman in Los Angeles to Alex Anthopoulos in Atlanta. They created a formula, winning on the margins, certainly, but more importantly, getting the players needed in order to dominate opponents.

“They know what we need,” Jansen said. “They know what we need that will put us in the best position to make the playoffs. to be in the playoffs. I’m invested in winning. I have another year left here on this contract. I want to experience winning with Boston.”

Cora’s wish list

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said he could use a few more bullpen arms of the caliber of Chris Martin.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

A couple of weeks ago, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that the club needed bullpen arms with more velocity. That remains true. But on Saturday, Cora made it clear that the bullpen, while effective, needs more premier talent to match the likes of Chris Martin and Jansen.

“’My advice will be for us to get a few arms, and then we will have to make tough decisions in spring training, and those guys have to go to Triple A and be ready to come up here.


Cora’s comments mirrored Jansen’s.

“The whole revolving door with the options is real,” Cora said. “That’s how you survive tough stretches and injuries. That’s the way I see it going forward. I’ll talk to whoever I have to talk to in the upcoming weeks or months and go from there. We have to make sure that in spring training we make tough decisions. Tough decisions are the guys that have been part of this for the last two or three years, and they have options, if they don’t make the team they have to go to Worcester.”

Boston Globe Today: Sports | September 22, 2023
Watch today’s full episode of Boston Globe Today: Sports from September 22, 2023.

Julian McWilliams can be reached at Follow him @byJulianMack.