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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Feels Kenley Jansen is as Good as Any Reliever in Baseball

Angry Kenley season has been chock full of highlights.



After essentially losing his role as closer in the 2020 postseason and entering a season where he’d be playing at age 33 for most of it, baseball pundits weren’t quite sure what to expect out of long-time Dodgers’ reliever Kenley Jansen.

The narrative surrounding the veteran stopper was that his best years were likely behind him as he struggled with velocity and command. But through the first two months of 2021, angry Kenley is looking like the Kenley of old.

After securing his 12th save of the season in convincing fashion, manager Dave Roberts was asked if this was the best he’s seen Jansen in some time.

We’ve seen him really good but I think this run is really good obviously. … This is as good as any reliever in the game right now I would argue.

Kenley’s 1.25 ERA is the best it’s been since 2017. Additionally, he’s walked only 1 batter over his last 7 outings after issuing 14 free passes over his first 13 games of the season.

Related: Kenley Jansen Credits 2021 Success to New Workout Regimen

The veteran closer has pointed to work that he did in the offseason where he focused on mobility over heavy lifting. He showed signs of success in spring training, but still with old inconsistencies along the way. Now, the big man is pitching with a focus, an anger, and a purpose that has him looking like an All-Star once again.

He’s pitching, quickly, confidently, and like a man on a mission to quiet the haters and prove to the game that he’s still among the elite. It’s a good look on him.

Jansen is in the final year of a 5-year deal he signed with the Dodgers in the 2016-2017 offseason.

NEXT: Doc Confirms Cody Bellinger Will Be in the Lineup on Saturday

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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  1. when Kenley came in for the 9th inning of last nite’s game, SanFran announcer Mike Krukow noted he would be facing “the Jansen-killler, Buster Posey,” then revealed Posey has 8 hits off Jansen,
    all singles. So, not very lethal, Mike. Kenley fanned Buster.

    • And then the rest of the inning happened. In spite of his recent success, Kenley is no longer appears to be a guy who can consistently pitch on back-to-back days.

    • Sadly, he failed last night but IMO, he was
      not ‘fully’ warmed up- rushed ’cause the
      ‘tying probability’ down 3 runs was
      probably close to 25% if that!

      • that’s gibberish. Kenley was great. The first batter stroked it, but after that the gnats had nothing on him!

    • I have to agree!! He is not the closer of yesteryear! He’s 50-50 at best. Dodgers need a Real Closer who’s Lights Out when he comes into the game. Roberts is going to blow it with his way of thinking!!

    • Who else would you trust? The new Jansen is your beat option right now. They have nobody else w/ the attitude and experience to be the closer. Kenley still ranks in the top 5 of all categories of a closer this year; ttl svs, app., and only 2 b. svs.; top dogs Melancon, Hendricks, Chapman have 3 blown saves each; Hader can’t pitch back-to- back days either; and Giants closer Jake McGee is not even close to these guys ( remember him?). Only Kimbrel is shut down right now, so we should show some love for Kenley making the adjustments to be the closer. I was one who highly criticized him and demanded for somebody else to replace him, but there’s nobody else available in this caliber. So we have to appreciate Jansen is trying to turn it around.

      • I like what you had to say until the end. Kenley is not trying to turn it around. He HAS turned it around.

        • Almost there, wait to he perfect that 2-seamer sinker as also an out pitch and throwing it for strikes regularly….. he’ll be really untouchable! Right now it’s still a work in process but he’ll get it.

  2. I really don’t trust anyone in the bullpen lineup period. I almost, no I do want the starters to go the distance in a tight spot. I am watching Urias today and he is only throwing fastballs and the Giants are pounding him. This line up sucks so forget about scoring any runs.. Dear Roberts, please pull Urias now before he gives up any more runs

  3. We’re still trying to figure our bullpen and 5th starter. Uceta, Vesia, and Bickford don’t cut it in the pen. The 5th starter hasn’t even been addressed. Until something changes, hang in gang!

  4. Kenley deserves kudos for his determination and effort so far this season. Best move Roberts has ever made was in the series last year having Urius close. It woke Jansen up and since then he’s been playing like his Job depends on it. Wish Pollock, Bellinger , and a few more would follow his lead.

  5. He’s saved 15 in a row without blowing one, would be 20 if not for an unearned run, so let’s all cry he’s not as dominant as he was in his 20s. Fans who think they are a lot smarter than Davy would have traded him 2 years ago.

    • Kenley shut down Posey, as I consider a walk to him a win since Posey can’t run and he struck him out on Monday night. Dodgers pitching was awesome the entire home stand… I hope Roberts avoids him going back to back, Same with Trienen. The lights out untouchable right now is Kelly ” FILTHY”…If Roberts would put Kelly in the closer role we’re going to be tough, especially if Graterol get’s it together.

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