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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Addresses Kenley Jansen’s Status as the Closer

The Dodgers drop the final game of the series against the Rays 8-7.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 28: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dugout during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox in Game Five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Dodgers dropped the second and final game of the series against the Tampa Bay Rays 8-7 in 11 innings. The Rays struck first, going up 1-0 in the 1st inning. LA added 3 runs in the 2nd inning and the back and forth nature of the game went on from there.

By the 9th inning the Dodgers had a 6-4 lead and Kenley Jansen entered the game for the save opportunity. Jansen had been on a recent hot streak, but this marked the first time he would be pitching back to back games since September 1st. Moreover, it was only the 3rd time he’s pitched back to backs since the All-Star break.

Nevertheless, after recording a 4 out save on Tuesday, Kenley was asked to save a 2 run lead on Wednesday.

That lead did not last long.

Jansen took over and — without much help from the home plate umpire — the Rays tied it up on two hits, a walk, and a sac fly. The Dodgers ultimately fell 8-7 in 11 innings and questions once again surfaced about the Dodgers closer.

The most pointed question manager Dave Roberts faced was simple and fair: “What would have to happen for you guys to consider a change [at closer]?”

Right now, I think that the way that he’s been throwing… obviously tonight was a blown save. The command after that first hitter — there was some good throws in there, but with Duffy, not putting him away, and I thought he had Choi punched right there, but I’m not really entertaining that thought right now.

Roberts fairly successfully side stepped the question by praising Jansen’s recent body of work, which is fair for the player’s manager, but these kind of questions will only get tougher come October.

While the 31 year-old closer has appeared dominant over his previous few outings, the reporter did note that he’s still blown 4 of his last 8 save opportunities.

Once again, it could be noted that home plate umpire Adrian Johnson very much missed strike 3 in the Choi at-bat…

…but that’s just part of the game. Still, Roberts wasn’t a huge fan of the call.

I thought he got squeezed on the Choi pitch — it flipped the inning.

One rough outing shouldn’t take away from the recent body of work that Jansen has… but it doesn’t make it sting any less. Plainly he did not have the same command that he’d had of late and it cost the Dodgers in the long run.

Written by Levon Satamian

My name is Levon Satamian. I am currently attending Cal State Northridge, and majoring in Broadcast Journalism.

45 Comments

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      • I love how you think you do but complain about others being the same. Hypocrite. Unless you’re somebody of note then you can’t say that.

  1. The bottom line is that Jansen is no longer an elite closer and it’s simply asking for trouble bringing him in. With all due respect to the Rays who are a good club, they are not the Braves, Nationals, Yankees, Twins or Astros. all of whom will feast on Jansen.

  2. Jansen was a catcher and changed to reliever. Roles change and abilities change. Not every pitcher can be Nolan Ryan. His feelings should not be more important than the Dodgers winning. Let’s learn the Darvish lesson. At the very least, Jansen’s leash needs to be cut real short.

  3. So…how many times have we seen this movie this year? Everybody knows the ending. Dave Roberts continues to let Kenley Jansen close is being delusional.

  4. Am I thrilled to win 7 straight Division Titles? Yes, of course, been a Dodger fan every one of my 59 years. Is winning a Title everything? Yep, it is. Rings are the goal, not Division Championships. We have no rings in 30 years plus. To win a ring we need a closer. Without a closer we have no shot; we will lose in the NLCS or the Series. Doc, you’ve seen enough. Think with your head not your heart. Kenley needs to move to a set up role starting right now. Bring Kelly and Baez in as the closers over the next two weeks. Kenley is done as a closer, it’s over. 8 blown saves? As Lasorda says “Play for the name on the front of your short, not the name on the back of the shirt”. Fans deserve a Title. This team deserves a Title. We cannot win a Title without a closer. Doc, you need to step up. Kenley will not get the job done, it’s time for you to face that reality.

    • Great post here, Wid. But the closing situation certainly would not be the only reason Dodgers miss out on a WS ring. The offense still struggles against the better pitching, especially LHP and if the offense continues to show inconsistency in key situations with RISP, and continue to pile up the K’s, we won’t worry about the closer because it simply means that Dodgers losing is a team effort one way or the other. Dodgers cannot count on slugging for theie run production in the PS.. OH, and one other thing too, the pitching staff has to be better at keeping the baseball in the yard in key situations as well.

  5. The Dodgers may have dodged a bullet by not trading their top prospects for Felipe Vazquez at the trade deadline. However, they still did not address their biggest weakness. Unfortunately, it will probably take losing in the playoffs for them to finally get the bullpen help that they desperately need to become a championship caliber team.

  6. Has anyone else noticed how Kenley is always saying things to make it sound like he’s back? Like he’s figured it out? He’s been doing that all season. Well, I don’t believe him anymore because the eye test doesn’t support his claims. I don’t see more velocity or a better cutter or better control. I see an avg pitcher who gets outs sometimes because hitters get themselves out sometimes. A closer is a pitcher who dominates hitters on a consistent basis. Thats not Kenley this season.

  7. I think that the Dodger fans who are booing the wrong person. The man who deserves the boos is Andrew Friedman. He knew the Dodgers had a closer problem earlier this season and failed to address it. So now here we are, headed into the playoffs with an ineffective closer and no answer to replace him. The Dodgers dont have to worry about becoming the Buffalo Bills of Major League Baseball because they aren’t going to the World Series this year

    • W Lewis, you may be correct here, but in reality, every team during the trading period told Dodgers that if Lux, May and or Smith and or Gray were not part of a deal then no deal. I agree that the BP situation failed to be addressed, but remember too that even 2 top BP arms at the cost of these top prospects guarantees nothing, especially no automatic WS win. Look at how the lineups are managed with this R_L_R_L obsession that takes place almost every game. If Dodgers fail to hit, as they did in last year’s WS it won’t matter about the BP.

  8. Dave Roberts is to blame for the situation getting to this point. He’s suppose to be a manager, not a baby sitter. Jansen has played a huge role blowing games in both the last 2 World series. Roberts needs to allow someone else the opportunity to fill the role. I’m not a huge fan of Baez but trying him doesn’t hurt the situation right now with Jansen blowing games anyway.

    • I agree with you Kendrick, 100%. Roberts needs to take Jansen out of the game before he blows the save but he does not do it and they will be beaten by the NLCS if this continues. World Series? Forget it, they won’t make it.

  9. I believe Jansen, like many of the game’s dominant pitchers, has been affected by the change in the baseball composition this year. Those balls hit off of him this season have gone much farther than they would’ve in years past even though his pitch speed and location has been relatively the same.

    • The Astros pitchers don’t seem to have an issue with era with these new balls. I’m thinking they’re cheating some how

  10. Jansen’s first back to back since finding his rhythm and so it didn’t go well, big deal. He either try’ s it again or he doesn’t. Still 9 more games left in the season. Roberts gets paid to worry about Kenley, I’m just a fan waiting for the best part of the season to begin, PLAYOFFS.

  11. I Thought that the home plate umpire was way off on his calls, But I think Roberts should pull Kenley when he struggles just any other Starting pitcher. When Kershaw has a bad day he gets pulled.

  12. There is one big problem. Who would take Jansen’s place?? Nobody in the pen has been lights out!
    Not exactly encouraging to be facing the top teams with an iffy pen.
    Remember the Astros got to Jansen in 2017 when he was at the top of his game!

  13. Instead of trying to let Jansen work out of his poor closing ability they should be using Baez or more so Kelly to have them prepared for the situation. There’s still time so get it done or the Monsters the Dodgers will be facing are going to eat up Jansen in the Playoffs and WS. When you are part of a team that has a guy failing and the Manager keeps using him more as a pet or favorite than letting best man play, it’s a terrible feeling. The guys on the team know it and deep down want him out of the spot but will never say anything except among themselves privately. It’s a terrible place to put your club emotionally. He has 8 blown saves and on at least 3 other occasions did not get a blown save. He has directly caused the Dodgers 8 to 10 losses which is going to cost the team Home Field advantage somewhere down the line. He is being booed and tarnishing every game he is in. I don’t see the dodgers getting to the WS if Jansen is the closer. No way.

  14. Roberts needs to grow a spine. Dodgers should go to a closer by committee. The idea Jansen MUST be the closer will cost the Dodgers the title. They will not make it to the WS let alone win it with this idiotic idea Jansen is the closer of two years ago.
    Once the Dodger fail they should pay off Roberts and get a manager that can manage pitchers unlike Roberts who has demonstrated he is clueless.

    • Tmaxter, I cannot in any way shape or form agree with ya more here, well said and this could very well be an ‘interesting’ off season coming up to say the least. But then again, with 7 straight Division titles, that may very well satisfy their needs of being a ‘contender’ and not make any moves, IDK .

      • Division titles are all they need to be a successful business and that’s where their desires end. Having good teams that people pay to see yearly as well as playoff money

  15. Lol don’t see the apologist shills anywhere here. Not much to say when one of the negatives you’re trying to sweep under the rug happened once again. Oh, how’s that great leadership that I dared to disparage? Still using Jansen in the closers role still putting Floro in with men on, talk about experimenting all you want but they’re still not learning anything apparently or perhaps the great Friedman put them in such a bind that they can’t do much else and will live or die with this current strategy

    • Mia Culpa, what ya say is probably true in many ways, but remember the offense has much of the blame as well, considering their performance in last year’s WS. Also, I still see an issue Dodgers have against the good LHP they face. And although home runs are way up everywhere Dodgers seemed to get burned by them more often than not in key spots in a game. In 12 games combined in these past 2 WS the Dodger pitching staff allowed 23 home runs! I cannot imagine any other team in the history of any WS that allowed that many.

  16. I’m sure Roberts is aware of everything that has been written here. Jansen is the closer and Roberts is trying to give him as many opportunities to show up. Running out of chances. We’ll probably see changes soon, i.e., the playoffs if this trend continues.

  17. Unfortunately and hopefully I’m wrong, but the direction the Dodgers are heading it looks like they won’t even past go heading in the NLCS playoffs, or to say the least the WS . Dave Roberts needs to grow a pair of B##ls instead for showing sympathy to Kenly Jansen it’s time to drain the swamp.

  18. Unfortunately and hopefully I’m wrong, but the direction the Dodgers are heading it looks like they won’t even past go heading in to the NLCS playoffs, or to say the least the WS . Dave Roberts needs to grow a pair of B##ls instead for showing sympathy to Kenley Jansen it’s time to drain the swamp.

  19. Everything has been said. If Roberts could only make a real decision on the reality. Unless there is something we don’t know Kelley should be the closer. Maybe, we will be surprised in the playoffs.

  20. Time to move away from Kenley in the 9th.Dave Roberts better replace him with someone else. Dave Roberts decisions just might keep us from winning the best record in baseball..

  21. Doesn’t anyone upstairs notice the trend? Team is slipping and relief pitching can’t do the job, especially closing games. Get the word down to the field that changes WILL be made starting now! Post season rosters will be built with those who prove they can get the job done. W S Champs.

  22. Jansen strikes me as the guy that would root against the teammate that takes his job in the playoffs

  23. Kenley Jansen is done!! What more proof is needed??? Roberts is done.. and still he is here…how many games has Roberts lost with his stupid calls??? I can count 8….If we ge to WS.. it will be dumb luck!!! Forget about winning the WS!!!

  24. Kenley did strike out Choi. Everyone saw that except the umpire who missed the call. With that being said, missed calls happen and it is up to the person (who gets the short end) to collect himself. A player, batter or pitcher, cannot fall apart….assuming he had it to begin with….because of a missed call. Our closer has to be able to save games when we have the lead and not give up any runs when we do not, period. Although all of the blown saves are problematic, as a Dodgers fan, I would never boo Kenley or any other Dodgers’ player for that matter. The sad fact is that Kenley should not pitch the 9th inning in the post season, but none of our options appear to be “lights out.”
    Still, I want to believe that the Dodgers can pull this off….. somehow….some way.

    • Barb!!!!!……..THANK YOU! Choi should not have been able to lace that single into center to score those runs, that pitch (the 0-2) was in the lower corner of the strike zone, ergo strike three. That does not absolve the fact that Kenley is no longer “Kenley”……..he isn’t the dominant closer any longer. But he did get shafted in that appearance on Wednesday nite. And like most people on here, I just cannot grasp why Roberts and Friedman have not started trying someone new in the closers role. Maybe Dustin May, maybe Urias……..someone who throws gas but does not issue walks. As a closer, you have to have moxie (confidence), you have to be able to throw pitches by the hitters, blow them away so to speak………..AND you CANNOT issue walks…….it’s a simple formula really.

  25. @Craig
    How about Russell Martin? Last I checked he has a 0.00 ERA. Heck I don’t feel any more scared with him taking the mound than anyone else in the pen.

  26. Now the not so funny………..Closer Kenley Jansen blew his eighth save opportunity while his ERA rose to 3.81. Yet Dodgers manager Dave Roberts continues to say he does not intend to remove Jansen from the closer role……..”Dave’ is a dolt.

    • Perhaps in the NLDS should this closer issue surface, they may elect to go to someone else just in the hopes of not having the exact repeat performances in the recent past, Not much more to be said here, really.

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