Dodgers News: Kenley Jansen Impressed Dave Roberts, Clayton Kershaw

After being passed over in the ninth inning of the series opener against the Washington Nationals because of recent usage, Kenley Jansen was back on the mound Sunday as the Los Angeles Dodgers looked to complete a three-game sweep.

Jansen entered with a 3-0 lead and due to face the bottom half of the Nationals’ lineup. More interestingly, however, was Tupac Shakur’s “2 of Americaz Most Wanted” played as the bullpen gates swung open rather than “California Love,” and Jansen jogged to the mound with a new glove in tow as well.

Whether sheer coincidence or indicative of a new version of Jansen to come, his velocity sat 94-95 mph and command was flawless in a dominant inning of work. “It was clearly his best outing of the year,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after the win.

“The command, the stuff was really good. Pitching to the top part of the zone, getting ahead of guys, getting the swing and miss. Really dominant outing.”

Roberts could not pinpoint one specific reason for the sudden spike in velocity, other than to note the ongoing work between Jansen and Dodgers coaches. “I know that he’s been working really hard with the performance guys, Brandon McDaniel and his staff,” Roberts said.

“Connor McGuiness has been really good for him. He’s just been working real hard. Credit goes to Kenley. It was really fun to see. It was the best stuff he’s had in quite some time.”

Jansen’s perfect inning capped off a shutout that Clayton Kershaw started and went six innings in. Corey Knebel and Blake Treinen threw a scoreless inning each as well.

“Our bullpen guys, can’t say enough about those guys between Corey, Blake and Kenley,” Kershaw said. “It was really fun to watch. Kenley today was something. I haven’t seen that Kenley. That was awesome. That’s a great sign for the Dodgers.”

Roberts downplays choosing Knebel over Jansen

When Knebel entered in the ninth inning last Friday for a save opportunity, it struck some as the Dodgers having lost some confidence in Jansen. Prior to Sunday, his most recent appearance resulted in a blown save and eventual loss for the Dodgers in extra innings.

However, Roberts maintained the decision was simply made to avoid using Jansen for a third time in the past four days, and that he would operate with the same approach for any other reliever as they adjust to the rigors of a full season.

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