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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Feels Kenley Jansen Can Still be Elite



Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is heading into a new season full of optimism and a potentially rejuvenated arsenal, but the question marks surrounding him will likely be following him for months into the season.

Still, manager Dave Roberts had some high praise for his veteran righty.

First, Doc talked about what he’s looking for out of Kenley this spring training.

I think with Kenley there’s just the fine-tuning. The ball’s coming out well this year, so I think that’s the big thing that we were all kind of hoping for. And now, for him, it’s the slider that he’s been talking about — as far as being able to strike it when he needs to or shorten it. The characteristics of the cutter are really good… he’s in a really good place.

So far the big man has tossed one scoreless inning in Cactus League play. In that outing, he struck out 2 batters and touched 92mph on his cutter. After an offseason visit to Driveline baseball to work on his cut-fastball, and efforts in camp to further develop his slider, Dave Roberts is excited about Jansen in 2020.

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But the wonder is can he turn the clock back to being the dominant closer he once was?

I still believe he can be one of the elite closers in the game … for him, if he’s feeling well, he’s going to be an elite closer.

Roberts goes on to mention that Kenley’s “body and mechanics are all aligned,” which has been a concern for coming on two years now. After being slow-played in camp back in 2018, a hamstring injury led to Jansen altering his mechanics. Since then, he’s been working to get it back. However, frustrations along the way have often come to a head.

Whether the 32-year-old can return to All-Star levels remains to be seen. While people will try to look at the radar gun as a telling factor of his dominance, the batter reactions should be taken more into consideration. Velocity isn’t as important as movement and location, and with that lies more hope in 2020 for Kenley Jansen.

NEXT: Dave Roberts Talks About A New Clayton Kershaw This Spring

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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