Dodgers Don’t Regret Easing Kenley Jansen Into Spring Training
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps no Los Angeles Dodgers player was eased into Spring Training this year more cautiously or at a slower pace than Kenley Jansen. His throwing program didn’t begin until weeks after other pitchers, and Jansen didn’t appear in a Cactus League game until March 15.

Jansen’s schedule was further adjusted because of tightness in his right hamstring. After appearing in another ‘B’ game at Camelback Ranch, the Dodgers closer eventually made his 2018 debut.

Overall, Janasen tossed 4.2 innings across five Spring Training games. He went every other day between his first three appearances, then pitched in back-to-back games during the exhibition Freeway Series.

The start of the regular season has not been kind to him, however. The dip in velocity that was present during the spring is still prevalent, lending to questions about health. Jansen has maintained he is not suffering from injury.

Considering his struggles, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was asked if the club regrets how they handled Jansen during Spring Training. He explained why that’s not the case, via Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:

“No, I think physically right now where he’s at he feels great, he feels strong,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think the counter to having him pitch more is the (risk of) injury or not feeling strong. In Kenley, the mechanics is something he’s always had to work through. I don’t think that’s a workload thing. We were really just trying to make sure that we didn’t push him too hard in the spring, understanding that we have a long way to go in the season. I think if we had it to do over again, we’d do the same thing.”

Not only has Jansen failed to pitch with his usual velocity, he’s been done in by uncharacteristic miscues. Jansen’s blown save in Monday’s series opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks came in just his second appearance of the season.

Last year, he didn’t blow a save until July 23, or a 40th appearance. Moreover, Jansen’s two walks that set the table for Chris Owings’ game-tying home run marked the first time he put two batters on in a single regular-season game since October 2016.

Nonetheless, Jansen and the Dodgers are confident he will soon put his troubles behind him. Until that happens, the team will have a tall order ahead of them. Thus far, the Dodgers have oddly lost all four games this season that Clayton Kershaw or Jansen have pitched in.