Dave Roberts: Kenley Jansen Struggling A Near-Insurmountable Hurdle For Dodgers
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has not looked like his usual self to begin the season, which has led to questions over the club’s strategy of easing him into things during Spring Training.

In his first game, Jansen entered in the ninth inning of a tied game against the San Francisco Giants. He surrendered what amounted to a game-winning home run to Joe Panik.

Then in his second appearance of the season, Jansen’s first save situation, he came in with a three-run lead against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jansen uncharacteristically walked back-to-back batters with two outs and then allowed up a game-tying home run to Chris Owings.

Jansen and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts have maintained that there are no health issues that are leading to his early-season struggles. The message is that he simply is working through some mechanical issues.

Roberts is a bit concerned though, as he know that Jansen needs to be right if the Dodgers are going to be successful, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:

“It’s hard, because when he has a bad day, you lose, for the most part,” Roberts said. “That’s the easiest way to look at his role versus anybody else’s role. If anyone else has a bad day, you can still find a way to win. If he doesn’t, you lose.”

Jansen’s velocity has also been a bit down in his first three appearances, as he sat at 89-90 mph and then 90-92 in two of the games. Jansen was around 91 mph in Saturday’s loss to the Giants, which remains a tad below his typical 93-96 mph.

Three games is certainly too small of a sample size to truly be concerned. Jansen still has plenty of time to right the ship and he in some part did by working out of a jam in the 12th inning. Of course, the Dodgers went on to lose in 14 innings on Andrew McCutchen’s walk-off home run.

Entering Sunday, Los Angeles is now 0-5 in games Clayton Kershaw or Jansen have pitched in.