Dodgers fans won’t like Dave Roberts’ recent comments on Kenley Jansen

Dave Roberts and Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Dave Roberts and Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts seems to hope Kenley Jansen will be the team’s closer in 2021.

Kenley Jansen is no doubt one of the best relievers in Los Angeles Dodgers history, but his time as the marquee bullpen arm seems to be over. The right-hander is still capable of getting three high-leverage outs, but no longer on a consistent basis.

His 1.83 ERA in 2016 and 1.32 mark in 2017 were the height of his prime. He sported WHIPs below 0.75 those seasons and recorded a total of 88 saves. The last three years, though? A 3.32 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 82 saves and a significant drop-off in strikeouts. That’s closer material for some other teams, but not the Dodgers, who usually sport a bullpen of nails.

So when fans are witnessing Jansen’s decline (regardless of how significant it is) and he’s not passing the eye test most nights, these comments are sure to frustrate those who are in tune to Dodgers baseball.

“The best-case scenario is Kenley is our closer,” Roberts told Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times this week, “but that is solely dependent on him.”

The Dodgers are reportedly interested in some options to bolster the bullpen to give Jansen some help, but the best closer on the market isn’t catching their eye at this point.

“The Dodgers aren’t done hunting for bullpen help. Liam Hendriks is considered the top reliever on the free-agent market, but the Dodgers haven’t expressed interest in the former Oakland Athletics closer, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. Other free-agent options include Brad Hand, Trevor Rosenthal and Kirby Yates,” Castillo added.

The Dodgers shouldn’t be waiting for Jansen to get back on track with one year left on his deal. They need to take matters into their own hands.

Roberts might be saying this just to keep things calm in LA. Jansen clearly fell out of favor in the bullpen pecking order, especially during the postseason. Though he finished six games, he blew Game 4 of the World Series, recorded just two saves, allowed at least a run in two of those appearances, and nearly blew Game 2 of the NLDS after giving up two runs in a 6-3 game before Joe Kelly had to come on for the save. He appeared just twice in six Fall Classic games.

While we shouldn’t take Roberts’ comments at face value, it is a bit disappointing that it seems like the organization hasn’t leveled with Jansen at this point to let him know that they should be going with a more reliable option in the ninth inning.

Jansen can still be a contributor, but it’s just not good for everyone’s blood pressure if he’s the last line of defense in 2021.