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Dodgers: Kenley Jansen Down, But Not Out, Roberts Still Offers Leash to Closer’s Role



The Dodgers almost on a dime fell on hard times in terms of health and production. After leading or being near the top of baseball in team ERA for most of the season, particularly in the bullpen, the month of September quickly turned the tides of fortune for Los Angeles.

While others struggle, the biggest spotlight has been shined onto Kenley Jansen. In September, the closer has an ERA north of 17 (7 ER, 3.2 IP) after a deflating blown save against the visiting Houston Astros on Saturday. It’s the second straight clunker for Kenley, and stands out even worse after he took home the National League Reliever of the Month honors just days before.

After the game, a dejected Jansen’s response could easily be summed up. He needs to do a better job.

Just making pitches and then I can’t execute to put them away. It’s frustrating. I went back and watched the video. I’m executing, I’m ahead in the count with everyone. I just didn’t execute well to put them away.

Manager Dave Roberts was asked about his closer’s recent stretch of poor outings and what, if anything, it means for the future of Jansen. His answer, as usual, offered additional leash to get it straightened out.

The last three haven’t been great. The last two were his worst … we’ve just got to continue to give him confidence and expect him to go out there and close out games for us. … As far as leash, he’s our closer. But obviously performance matters. It does. And everyone in that clubhouse understands that.

Much of the Dodgers’ success in the postseason rests on the shoulders of Jansen. Moreover, with less than three weeks left in the regular season, the team can ill afford to wait for Kenley to ease back his level of confidence.

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. I know it cannot be easy to be a pitcher..because of the weight and the responsibility you have on your shoulders to perform well…But Jensens performance last night was absolutely horrible!! Our Dodgers have come so far and to see Our lead slip through was unbelievable…just could not believe it!! Hopefully Dave Roberts has a back up plan for a reliever that he can REALLY count on because Jensen just does not have the stuff he once had!! We as Dodger Fans want to see Our Boys in Blue make it to the World Series and not let our opportunity slip away because of BAD pitching….

  2. Its great that the Dodgers have the best record in the majors. But, anyone whom has watched the team this season can sense that things are not as good as they seem.

    Our starting pitchers are having issues with their pitch counts. The way we struggled against Arizona whom has close to the worst record in baseball is concerning. We are lucky to be in one of the weakest divisions in baseball. Our record against teams that have a winning percentage is also discouraging, We have Cody & Max whom can barely hit 200. I think that when the good teams play us in the playoffs, it might be a repeat of last years collapse. We shall see.

    • Just want to say that it matters not the record of teams like the DBags, Padres or Gyros, when they play our Dodgers, they bring their A game because they’re tired of our blue being so highly touted and winning the division every year. Well, the way things look to be going, that will end this year because San Diego has a dynamo of a team, fixed their weaknesses at the deadline while we arrogantly sat on the sidelines and did nothing.

  3. Giving up all those 2 strike hits is unexcusable. And why should Kenley get so much lease when there are others who deserve it?
    Belli gets moved down in the batting order ehy shouldn’t Kenley? Let him work it out in the 7th and prove he deserves it, meanwhile Treinen and Bazooka are underutilized.

    • I could not agree more! To watch our closer give up 6(!) consecutive hits and 5(!) runs in the top of the 9th, was disturbing. I am beyond perplexed as to why Dave Roberts kept Kenley in after the third or fourth batter. It was immediately obvious, to most of us watching, that Kenley was struggling last night and was unable to do what needed to get done. Give others an opportunity to close and let Kenley work the 7th or even 8th.

      I love our team and want to see the Dodgers get to and successfully through the World Series this year. What I do not want to see is the Padres make their way, quickly and surely, to unseat the Dodgers nor do I want to see the Dodgers not get very far during play off’s because of poor decision-making and other issues already mentioned.

      Last night’s loss to the Astros definitely added insult to injury, but it does not have to be a foreshadowing of things to come…I hope. Go Dodgers!!!

  4. I can’t believe that Roberts still has a job. I expected to wake up this morning to the news that he had been fired immediately after the game. He just stood there and watched Kenley get hammered unmercifully. There is no more time to diagnose Kenley when there are several live arms in the pen.

    • You cant get away with 89-91 if you dont have movement and pinpoint location. I have never been a Jansen supporter for closing out games.

  5. My Oh My, !!! Jansen blows another one , nice guys finish last , loser of the month , C’mon Robert’s that is what is happening and will continue to happen ! The game with Jansen in there to close always has to end in chaos, A walk , a hit , as soon as he comes in the game to pitch. Jansen had a short.. good…. run this year but went right back in to being his old self , cannot close ,and Robert’s and Jansen are both “NOW ” in real ” DENIAL ” Robert’s said….. WE’VE just got to give him confidence and go out there and close out games……He can’t close out games and if ROBERTS thinks the players want JANSEN coming in after what he has done the past few years , ROBERTS and his GOOD FRIEND better think real hard ,your killing this team , with so much talent in the Bullpen to have another closer, as far as obviously …..PERFORMANCE MATTERS ….. Robert’s states …..everyone in the clubhouse understands that . Well, why are ROBERTS AND JANSEN not understanding it themselves !! How many more chances must be given ? close the game not lose it, or if you do win it it is always “DRAMA” in ending the game He can never shut the opposing team down , doing it once in awhile is not a confidence builder to any one or any team , I know in there hearts they think Jansen is a great guy , but in there hearts also they want to win . Enough is enough , ROBERTS must quit thinking of Jansens feelings and start thinking of the TEAM and the FANS that support the DODGERS. Find a new closer soon, or …..wait till next year.

  6. Trade Kenley. Can’t afford to be having faith in people not performing this close to post season. It’s not the time to be “training” him; it’s time for him to perform. Shape up or ship out. Can’t stand watching this unfunny circus play out.

  7. It’s the same formula. Dave Roberts and Kenley Jansen will ultimately put a premature end to another promising season. How many times are we going to do the same thing and expect a different result?

    • You are absolutely right. It’s not Jensen, but Roberts. This is his job; he can talk all day, but cannot manage a little league team

  8. Kenley is not Kenley anymore. After 2 batters you know if he has it or not. As bad as Jansen was last night, Roberts was worse. I could only think last night that Roberts wanted to show Jansen and the team that he can’t close anymore but I wake up this morning and find comments that Jansen will continue as the closer. I couldn’t believe it. We only have a couple more weeks until the playoffs, lets use that time to find a closer among McGee, Trienen, Baez, Graterol, and Kelly. We don’t lack for options but lets move on with someone else! We will NOT win the World Series with Kenley as the closer.

  9. Of course Roberts will publicly support Jansen, but trust me, Jansen is toast. When a closer loses confidence (not to mention 4-5 mph off fastball) they’re done. Roberts knows it and so does the FO. The good news is that they have legitimate alternatives to Jansen. The bad news is that somehow the Dodgers have figured out a way to burn up their pen in a 60 game season. Frankly Dodgers shouldn’t worry about winning Division, it just doesn’t matter that much this year. Their to priority should be getting the bullpen organized & rested for playoffs.

  10. Unfortunately Jansen will be able to work things out much sooner than expected- right after the dodgers are eliminated in the first round. Dodgers will never make it to the promise land with Roberts at the helm total moron

  11. So here’s an idea…we do have another potential closer…Mookie Betts! He provides the depth at another position we’ve all been looking for. We should let our expert manager do what he does best…over manage…except of course when it comes to the bullpen and blowing games where he under manages. Roberts is a proven strategist with our bullpen as the playoffs and last night demonstrate. I’m thinking manager of the year as we exit the first round of the playoffs like last year.

  12. Roberts lost this game for the Dodgers they are in the last 2 or 3 weeks with San Diego for the Championship and all he had to do was bring one of his good relievers in but he just sat on his hands what game was he watching i have seen him pull pitcher after 1 hit but 5 straight when the games on the line.

  13. The blown save and loss should be credited to Roberts. After the first two solid base hits, Roberts should have had someone warming up and thinking about taking Kenley out. After the third base hit, he should have taken him out. After the fourth, Roberts should have been taken out. What a poor excuse for a manager!

  14. Roberts’ loyalty to Jansen has hurt his team since last season. Andrew Friedman needs to look for more closers and sit Jansen. Jansen’s main issue is that he has lot his velocity . He needs to be more like a Debbis Eckersley or Greg Maddox who uses off speed and mixing pitches to be elusive.

  15. There is no doubt in my mind that Roberts MUST win a WS this year or he’s out. You don’t get to have a team like this and continually lose when it counts. Maybe Friedman should go as well because in this league you need a desperate guy like Preller, willing to do whatever is necessary to win. To me, Friedman is arrogance personified. ThE fact that he let Preller do what he did and did not answer is news enough for me. Lastly, Graterol is our closer of the future, but not now. Treinen is our only viable option over Kenley. Flip the roles now Doc.

      • I can’t remember when I’ve seen a manager so late in the season, with so much at stake, leave a pitcher in after giving up so many hits resulting in runs. My goodness, we don’t have a 10 game lead over San Diego. In addition, how can players settle into a position when the manager has them playing all over the place. Im a Dodger fan and do not follow other teams. Do their managers operate the same way?

  16. On the plus side, Jansen was clearly throwing strikes last night instead of walking a few guys.

  17. Sorry to say Dodgers are not going to win with Kenley. It’s time to pass the torch to someone else. Don’t look now but here come the Padres.

  18. The Stroes didn’t need a thrash can hidden behind the dugout last night. Good old Dave put one on the mound for them! You would think a manager would try every way to beat a team that cheated you out of a chance to be world champions! You would think he would want to do it for the morale of his team and for the fans that love the Dodgers. I am willing to bet you that no one on that team had a good feeling when Kenly stepped on the mound last night. These guys want what’s good for the team, not some, “we have to build his confidence” stupidity. Dave can win with the Dodgers with almost any lineup, but as long as he puts the weakest link on the mound to close a game, they are in jeopardy!!!

  19. “On the plus side, Jansen was clearly throwing strikes last night instead of walking a few guys.”

    If he would have walked the first 4 maybe Roberts would have pulled him. Ah probably not…. we’re working on his confidence.

    Reply

  20. If he would have walked the first 4 maybe Roberts would have pulled him. Ah probably not…. we’re working on his confidence.

    Reply

  21. Everyone of you here covered this discussion quite well. And besides , as Tmax has pointed out before. DODGERS WILL NEVER win as with Roberts as manager and its already pointed out why. 4 reasons to be assured that Dodgers will be bounced out in that best of 3 PS series: First is Roberts and his design making. 2nd is we don’t have a dependable starting rotation at this time.
    The other 2 reasons are that:
    The offense fails to make enough contact against the better pitching and lastly, the pitching cannot keep the baseball in the yard come playoff time. Sadly the result will be the team will be eliminated on their home field for the 4th straight year.

  22. As I continue to state, the Dodgers will never win a WS championship with Roberts as the manager. He is too much their teammate and not their manager.
    Roberts will not make the tough call he wants to be everyone’s friend.
    He will not pull Jansen as Jansen will turn on him and Roberts cannot do it.

    Roberts’s line up decisions and pitching decisions are poor. The only reason the Dodger win is that Dodger Management and organizations have given him the very best team to manage. But do not get your hopes up as he will mess it up.
    Jansen is not the pitcher he was. As I continue to say with the incredible talent in the Bullpen they should use a closer by committee depending on the opposing lineup. Sometimes you might need Treinen, Floro, or McGee other times Kolarek. Sborz might help and there is always Graderol.
    I hope after this season they fire Roberts when he does not win a ring.

    • Right on, Tmax. What ya explained here is why one should not expect a WS ring this year. The one big off season move is to look beyond Jsnsen for ¾Cy the closer role or go from within. But last night clearly shows he does not have it anymore.

  23. Mr. Jansen has said recently that his adrenaline isn’t the same without fans in the stands to pump him up. May I remind him, that he has 80 million reasons why his adrenaline should be flowing every time he walks through the bullpen gate. May I also remind him that he has 25 teammates that expect his adrenaline to be flowing, as well as a franchise that wanted him enough to give him 80 million reasons to be pumped up. At the very least Mr. Jansen, can you please try to pretend that your head is in the game and play for personal pride. But, I also think that Roberts shares the blame is this one too. Gee Dave, when did it finally occur to you to pull him out. Let’s see, 5 batters, 5 runs, and no outs. Hmmm.

    • Jensen is a crybaby… I’m not trying to beat up on the guy, but Its always an excuse with him.. Heck, for the money they gave him he should care nothing other than giving his best..

  24. I don’t get that thinking why does it rest on him? Here’s an idea geniuses how about use someone else. We don’t need him to figure it out (and he won’t) we got options use them now while there’s some season left so we know who to use in October

  25. Although last nights performance was pretty darn bad, Jansen is not the only person at fault. Robert’s needs to do a better job recognizing patterns in his pitchers and know when to yank them. Hopefully they both get better.

  26. I have watched Kinley Jansen for years and loved every minute. He’s in a slump, it happens. But the way you turn your backs and talk like you know something, is just sorry.
    Let the man and his manager work it out.

  27. I’ve said it from the very beginning and I’ll say it again, Jenson is average at best.. Maybe it was from what was no the market, but they overpaid for his services.. Its not as if he consistently throws in the mid too high nineties and most batters successfully adjusted to his eighty five mile an hour cutter..

  28. Roberts: you cannot manage! You have proven that so many times it sickens the average fan. We wait decades and come sooo close but you prevent success because you don’t know your job.
    Yeah, you’re loyal to your players, even as we are sinking because of it. Anyone could see you are blowing the game.
    Kenley is a middle reliever AT BEST! Maybe not even that.

  29. I totally agree with you bro, how is it that every Dodger fan in their right mind would of took Jansen out immediately after the second hit off of him. I blame Roberts for the Dodgers not having a world series ring.

  30. It’s time for Dave Robert to leave and taken your closers with you. Kenly Jansen your done

  31. I think Jansen’s new name should be “Ol’ Give-It-Up”, because it seems like every time he enters a game in a crucial save situation, he’s just as likely to give up the lead as he is to do his job as a closer. I’ve felt uneasy all season long when Jansen come in to close out a game. I’m worried about using him now in another game saving situation. Remember what happened to Jonathan Broxton several years ago when the Yankees beat him twice to win games in the 9th. He was never the same relief pitcher for the Dodgers again. I’m worried that the same thing could happen to Jansen after blowing the game Saturday night.
    Dave Roberts is known for showing loyalty to his players. Sorry to say that loyalty has cost him crucial games and maybe a World Series title

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