Kenley Jansen: He’s certainly a long shot given the uncertainty in electing closers, but there’s no doubt his six-year run as Dodgers closer has been one of the best we’ve seen, with a 2.07 ERA and 604 strikeouts in 396 1/3 innings. He needs another decade or so, but Mariano Rivera, his compadre in cutter eminence, had a similar career arc and pitched until he was 43.
One thing we know: A World Series title will help. All the modern relievers who have been elected — Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Goose Gossage, Dennis Eckersley and soon Rivera — were closers on World Series winners.
The spring was about Cam Newton’s shoulder surgery. The summer was about the bizarrely timed firing of GM Dave Gettleman. September was about Newton finding his stride. And just as Newton got there, with Carolina’s upset of the Patriots in Foxborough, last week became about the quarterback and his sexist comments to Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue.
“It’s a terrible and tragic situation, and my heart goes out to everyone involved.”
John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals, knee, 1 p.m. ET: Very quietly sneaking back onto the playing field is Ross, who hasn’t made an appearance since his short-lived NFL debut in Week 2. In addition to an unfortunate fumble in the first quarter of that game, Ross aggravated a left-knee injury he had been dealing with since the preseason. He has been gradually working his way back through rehab and practice … until now.
Pushing scrambles the matchups. The Clippers like switching on defense. Griffin and Gallinari can switch pretty seamlessly — the upside of shoehorning one true power forward (Griffin) alongside a tweener who needs a lot of minutes there. If they get a stop and run hard, the opponent might not have time to normalize the matchups.