With the Los Angeles Dodgers just beginning their 2021 Spring Training schedule, Monday marked the first game for several position players and pitchers, with Kenley Jansen among them.
It was Jansen’s first time pitching in a game since facing the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the 2020 World Series. He failed to close out the Rays and remained in the bullpen as the Dodgers turned to other options — namely Julio Urias.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has still maintained Jansen is the team’s closer heading into the 2021 season. Roberts also was optimistic with what Jansen would show against the Colorado Rockies.
“I just want him to go out there and attack the strike zone. The stuff, the characteristics of his cut fastball, his two-seamer, the breaking ball are all in line,” Roberts said prior to the game.
“I know he’s excited to get out there. He’s put in a lot of work on all facets of him as a baseball player. There’s a lot of twitchiness that’s come back, his body is in great shape, so I’m excited for him.”
The embattled closer then went out and came one swing and miss from an immaculate inning. “Kenley was good, he was sharp,” Roberts said after the 10-0 win. “I thought the life to the ball, he mixed in some two-seamers, mixed in a breaking ball for a strike, the cut fastball was good. Nine pitches, very efficient.
“I think that right now it starts with the body. I think his body is in a good spot and firing the right way. Then you get into the delivery, and I think he’s repeating it, which speaks to the consistency of the throw and command. Now you talk about the characteristics and all that stuff follows. He’s done that all spring.”
Gonzalez among top Dodgers pitchers
The Dodgers received unexpected contributions from Victor Gonzalez last season and he emerged as one of Roberts’ trusted options for the playoffs. Rather than rest on the early career success, the young southpaw used the offseason to work toward improving.
Gonzalez retired all three of the Rockies batters he faced. “I think if I can look at one pitcher who’s made such big strides from a year ago, Victor would probably be at the top of the list,” Roberts said.
“He’s just got such good command now of his two-seamer and understands how to use his slider to left and versus right. I can now say he’s a polished Major League pitcher.”
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