Uncertainty Hovers Over Kenley Jansen As Dodgers Advance To NLCS

With Kenley Jansen enduring more inconsistencies this year, how the Los Angeles Dodgers will utilize him in the National League Championship Series and potentially beyond is unclear.

Jansen already was passed over for a save opportunity in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series, with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts electing for Brusdar Graterol. Jansen had struggled a bit en route to converting save the night prior, though Roberts explained it was more a byproduct of wanting to give the Milwaukee Brewers a different look in a second consecutive game.

Jansen’s next opportunity came against the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the NL Division Series. He was tasked with only recording the final two outs of a 5-1 win. When summoned for the ninth inning in Game 2, the longtime closer faltered.

He allowed two runs on three hits and was removed after throwing 30 pitches. The Dodgers hung on for a win, but Roberts said he would need to evaluate Jansen’s role as closer moving forward.

Jansen predictably was unavailable for Game 3 due to usage, though the Dodgers cruised to a 12-3 win anyhow. Prior to the Dodgers completing a sweep of the Padres, Roberts continued to suggest Jansen would be used in a ole other than closer.

“We just got to continue to build that confidence in him and know that whatever the game situation calls for, when his number is called, those outs are valuable and be ready,” Roberts said.

When directly asked if Jansen can be trusted in high-leverage situations, Roberts answered, “I’m not going to make that decision yet.”

One of the issues is Jansen’s velocity, which was dropped over the final month of the regular season.; that also plagued him last year.

“There’s mechanics, there’s body movement, there’s releasing the baseball and how his hand is and all that stuff that is above my kind of intelligence level but we have a lot of smart guys working through it,” Roberts said.

Jansen open to any role

To his credit, Jansen has publicly voiced his acceptance of pitching in any scenario and doing whatever is in the best interest of the team. That buy-in has Roberts confident he isn’t running the risk of losing Jansen from a mental standpoint.

“We have a very good relationship, all he cares about is winning a championship for the city of Los Angeles. I understand and I’m very sensitive to what he has accomplished on a baseball field as a closer and as a perennial All-Star. But we also have to look in real time and do what’s best for the Dodgers, and he understands that,” Roberts said.

“So like I said before, when he gets the baseball, I’m going to expect him to get those outs and that’s kind of what I expect and I know he expects the same. We’ve talked. We’re in a great place.”

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!