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Dodgers: Dave Roberts Needs a Confident Kenley Jansen

Not all saves are created equal.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 20: Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers has a conversation with releif pitcher Kenley Jansen #74 in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on June 20, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Dodgers won 9-8. (Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images)

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen earned his 33rd save of the season on Saturday. He entered to lock down a 2-run lead against the lowly Giants of San Francisco in an otherwise meaningless game for Los Angeles. Sure the win tied them for the most wins in franchise history, but in the immediate focus, it didn’t mean much.

He ultimately struck out the side and allowed no runs, but the first two base runners got on via a hit by pitch and a walk. When the first two runners reach, nerves start to set in for Dodger fans.

While Kenley got the job done, manager Dave Roberts was of course asked about his closer after the game. In this case, Jansen’s focus.

The confidence is there for me when the mindset is right. I don’t want to say he was disinterested and there are things outside that bleed into his head and thought process. But we’ve talked numerous times. It should have no bearing on him going out there. — via Bill Plunkett, OC Register

Watching Kenley all season long, there are definitely moments where you can pick out the lack of focus, chiefly in meaningless games. And with that said, all season long the excuses have been plentiful. Now, Roberts says no more.

This is a time when there are no excuses. It’s going out there and leaving it all out there. That’s what I expect from him. His teammates do. So I’ve seen that. When I see that, I’m certain that good things are going to happen for him and for us.

Ultimately “good things” did happen on Saturday for the Dodgers — Jansen did his job and saved Hyun-Jin Ryu’s gem — but the next time he gets into a game to save a lead, it’s not likely going to come against a team LA has a 27 game advantage over.

With Saturday being his likely final tune up before postseason play, Kenley finishes his season with a 5-3 record, 33 saves, but with 8 blown saves and a career high 3.71 ERA in 62 games.

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.

5 Comments

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  1. Interesting that if a day-to-day player doesn’t run hard to first base, it’s lack of hustle. When Jansen gets distracted, or decides the current game he’s been put in, isn’t that important, it’s “outside things getting into his head”.

    Robert’s handling of Jansen and the front office’s inability to bring in real bullpen help continue to be both sore spots with the fan base (which means nothing so far) but could end up costing this club dramatically in the playoffs. Another great season, marked by a collapse in the playoffs just might get to wearing the fan base’s tolerance down to a nerve.

    In the meantime, when Jansen enters the game, Robert’s may want to go right out and tell him if its a meaningless game or not, just so everyone’s expectations are the same.

    “You can mail this game in Kenley, it really doesn’t mean anything”.

    “Thanks coach, I’ll just go through the motions. Hey skipper, I was wondering if you thought I should let my hair grow a bit longer, or get it trimmed?”

    “Gee, I don’t know Kenley, lemme go ask Dustin…”

    • This is their last chance to get it done before we start finally seeing the effects of 7 straight playoff failures. As far as Jansen he gets different treatment and I think it’s because he’s not very pleasant he’s an ego and he’s not like the others on the team who put team first he’s stubborn and arrogant and not using him as closer if things go bad in the playoffs will have the same negative impact as if they continued trotting him out there because I can see him being a problem in the clubhouse and not rooting for his team. He strikes me as the guy that wants a ring but only if he’s a big part and not just by any means necessary like the rest of the club wants it

  2. Watched him since he began hes slower,not in condition,swell headed, and likely very hard to deal with. Hes on the downhill slide and doesnt have the innate talent to fall back on. As the old adage implies,” stick a fork in him,hes done”

  3. get a new closer. no room for bad attatude. YES< CUT MORE HAIR. DUSTIN MAY,DOES THE DODGERS NEED TO HAVE SUCH A WILD <NON PRO PLAYER< THAT LOOKS LIKE A TEENAGER W? NO BRAINS. CUT THE DAM BUSH

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