Published On: Wed, Apr 18th, 2018

Roberts: Struggling Jansen is 'not right'

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One of baseball’s elite closers hasn’t looked the part this season.

Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Kenley Jansen has battled uncharacteristic control and velocity issues, and after he blew his second save Tuesday against the San Diego Padres, manager Dave Roberts offered a blunt assessment of the situation.

“When you have a two-run lead and you get the best closer in baseball coming into the game, you expect to not use three other relievers,” Roberts said, according to Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press.

“Right now,” Roberts added, according to Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times, “he’s not right.”

Jansen entered the bottom of the ninth with a two-run lead, but immediately gave up a 416-foot solo shot to Eric Hosmer on a poorly located, 90.0-mph cutter. After getting the next two outs, Jansen walked Franchy Cordero, leading to a game-tying double courtesy of Chase Headley.


(Courtesy: Baseball Savant)

The Dodgers, led by Yasmani Grandal, bailed Jansen out in the 12th to win 7-3, but much of the focus remained on the right-hander’s struggles.

“Everyone can criticize you. That’s OK. They deserve to criticize me,” Jansen said. “But for me, I just have to be strong in my mind and know who I am. I’ve done this for a long time now. I’ve just got to have that confidence when I go out there and continue to battle.”

While Jansen’s drop in velocity is concerning, the right-hander’s history shows it’s not uncommon. The cutter, Jansen’s go-to pitch, has hovered around 92.1 mph this April. That isn’t too far off from the first month of last season (93.2 mph) or April 2016 (92.6 mph).

More alarming is Jansen’s spike in walks, especially coming from a pitcher who didn’t issue his first base on balls until June 25 last season and averaged just 1.2 walks per nine innings from 2015-17.

“I’m going to figure it out,” Jansen said. “I know who I am. I know deep down inside who I am.”



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