Dodgers: It’s Time for the Kenley Jansen Experience to End

We’ve all seen this story before. Dave Roberts calls on Kenley Jansen in a key situation and we all hold our collective breaths until we either sigh in relief or shout a few choice words at our television.

This should not be the reaction that a fanbase has whenever their closer enters a game. A closer is supposed to instill confidence in their teammates and in their fans, not in the opposing dugout. But for the better part of the last few years, we’ve seen the exact opposite more times than not.

The time has come for the Kenley Jansen experience to end.

Now, this is not to say that Jansen should never pitch for the Dodgers again. He can still be a solid piece in lower leverage situations. But the days of claiming victory as soon as he starts his jog out to the mound in the 9th are over.

Another Playoff Meltdown

Last night provided all of the evidence needed to prove this point. With a three-run lead and only 3 outs to go, it should have been goodnight for the Padres. Instead, what we witnessed was perhaps the final straw for a closer desperately trying to stave off father time.

None of this is to say that Kenley is a bad guy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Teammates have always raved about his leadership and good nature in a clubhouse, but that can only take you so far. Even Jerry Hairston Jr., a former teammate of Jansen who knows what he’s going through, knows that this can’t keep happening.

The key quote from J Hair.

He can’t get the ball in the 9th inning right now.

To his credit, it sounds as if Dave Roberts is reaching the point where he can no longer defend his current closer and may finally choose the good of the team over the ego of one player. It didn’t cost them tonight, but these close calls are only asking for trouble.

Luckily, the Dodgers have plenty of pitchers that they can turn to in the ninth inning going forward. You have players like Brusdar Graterol and Victor González ready to step in, and hell, even Blake Treinen has looked more dependable thus far. There is absolutely no excuse for Dave Roberts to continue testing the baseball Gods by not going to his best guys when the pressure is at it’s highest.

Final Thoughts

Kenley Jansen has been arguably the greatest reliever in Dodger history for much of the past decade. He has had his fair share of signature moments and will always have a place among the best to ever wear Dodger blue. If he were anywhere near his former self, it would be a no-brainer to throw him out there to close out every game. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t seem to have it for whatever reason and it’s something the Dodgers cannot risk any further.

I would give anything to have our confident and dominant closer back. Anything. But with so many better options waiting for their shot to prove themselves, it’s looking more and more like the final countdown has begun for Kenley Jansen.

NEXT: Dodgers Take Game 2 of the NLDS in Dramatic Fashion

Daniel Palma

Daniel is an avid sports fan who loves his hometown teams. If he's not watching baseball, you can find him playing or coaching. No matter what, he'll always root for the Boys in Blue!


  1. The problem, as the article states, is we have seen this time and again, Roberts is so focused on not upsetting a player’s “Ego” he makes decisions that are a determent to the entire team.
    Roberts is a nice guy but has shown he does not have the will to anger a player or the team to make the right decisions which is his Job!
    Several years in a row the Dodger Front Office has given him the most talented team in baseball and each year he blows it with poor in-game decisions!
    Enough! bench Jansen and hopefully Fire Roberts!!

    1. Right on! Kenley is finished as a closer, especially when Roberts has already decided to not let KJ face any team’s middle of the order hitterd. And if thats the case. KJ cannot be used in the 9th inning anymore.

    2. I am sure KJ realizes he is nearing the 18th green as far as his Dodger career is concerned. It is time to surrender the closer’s position to someone else, especially at this critical juncture in the season. This is not a demotion IMHO. KJ can still influence a game by coming in and holding a lead in the middle innings, or on a rare occasion, closing out a Dodger blowout. He has nothing to bow his head about : his career was excellent!!!! But now its time to make the move for the betterment of the team. Go Blue!!!

  2. Sad to say but KJ is done as a closer. As for Roberts, well, what Leo meant is that nice guys don’t win!
    2020: last chance for both of them!

    1. Dave Roberts is like a drug addict who is hooked on Kenley Jansen. He is in a state of denial, and will rob his own family, the Dodgers, to maintain his habit. It’s time for an intervention. Friedman made great moves in the last off-season to upgrade an already strong team to the best Dodger team I have ever seen. It’s time for him to lay down the law, or the first aquisition next year should be a new manager.

  3. I remember how sad I was to see a 42 year old Willie Mays trip over his own feet in the outfield for the Mets. Felt the same way last night. Kenley’s been a great Dodger but velo does matter and 88 mph cutters don’t cut it. They’re batting practice today. Roberts should stop using him in the 9th (with one exception) and embarrassing this former great. I hope the Dodgers have a 5 run lead in the final game of the WS so Kenley can finish.

  4. Yes time for the Kenley experience to end. But for those who harass Dave Roberts, he e felt Kenley earned a few more chances after a brilliant career to remake himself, which sadly he did not. Uh, guys, there is a reason why every player in the Dodgers is giving their utmost to this postseason run and why the Dodgers have come this far without discord in the clubhouse. It is because they have a coach who accords respect and opportunity to each and every one of his players—and they know it to a man! So please stop badmouthing the best Dodger manager we have had since Walter Alston.

    1. Yes, well said. Respect and encouragement are keys to Roberts managing style. There are lots of teams with great talent who don’t make it to the Series. Roberts and mgmt have brought a team of great talent, vitality… And heart. He’s responsible for nurturing their”Can do” spirit so well.
      But yes, it is time for Kenley to step back to a less vital role. That game he blew earlier in the season was mind numbing. I had the feeling that Doc was giving KJ enough rope to hang himself. Alas, he didn’t follow through by pulling the trapdoor lever. I believe he, and mgmt, will now.

  5. J. Hair makes the right call. When Graterol finished up the 8th, he was pumped up and he got his team mates pumped up. Then in the 9th, Roberts brings in Janson. Now we all have that feeling of “here we go again”, Janson is going to blow in again. Is Roberts putting in Janson to try to build up Janson’s confidence. For get it Robert’s, it’s not time to play nurse maid any more. Forget about using Jansen as the closer in tight spots anymore. You can’t trust him. Even when you put in Kelly, that was almost a mistake…

  6. KJ does not have movement on his ball. Without that movement, he’s just throwing 88 mph “fastballs”.

    But, don’t worry- Roberts will find some other way to outsmart himself. And if he does, WE need to start a campaign (letters, social media, phone calls, etc.) to management to finally right a wrong that was committed over 20 years ago, and bring back Mike Scioscia!!

    1. The game has long passed by Scioscia, you have zero chance to win in todays game with an old school dinosaur like him. He’s been out of baseball for years for a reason.

    2. I’m looking more to the Mgr. pos. to be filled, by Justin Turner. They were discussing the chances of him retiring, wearing “Dodger BLUE”, and I think it would be appropriate for him to manage the Dodgers; especially after becoming a “FAN FAVORITE”. Close Out the NLDS, tonight. GO BLUE.

  7. Kelly and Jansen please keep them away from the 8th and 9th innings please! They dodged a bullet with those 2 knuckleheads last night. Can’t have a closer throwing 88 mph out of the pen!!!!

  8. He was done 2 years ago. Robert’s does not use the best player plays policy. He uses the theory my favorite player plays policy. We all saw this with the Clippers an overrated smooth talking Doc Rivers blew a 3 to 1 lead to a poor Nuggets team. Now another smooth talking Dave Robert’s will follow the same path. The Dodgers are clearly the best team in baseball and Davey will blow it again.

  9. Dave Roberts is an analytics, by the numbers guy and a paid nursemaid to sooth bruised pitchers feelings. He has no clue on how to pull the levers of team management. He has consistently been handed the most talented team in the National League, yet has failed in the big moments more than he has succeeded. Sure he has five division titles, but that has been in the weakest division until this year the Padres have risen to offer some competition and appear to be on track to be a worthy opponent going forward.

    He also can claim two NL Championship titles, but no big prize to follow them, though he may be able to claim being the victim of a theft of that prize in 2017. Even in the face of that, he seems to just want to smile and not upset his friend and neighbor AJ Hinch. He’s just such a nice guy.

    I don’t blame Kenley, he after all is doing his best. But everyone fades with time and all records can and are usually surpassed. If not, Randy Johnson would still be pitching somewhere. It’s Roberts job to recognize that before it is a liability to the team he leads. A nice guy has no place in that role. Leo Durocher was paraphrased to mean, “nice guys finish last.” Dave Roberts may not be finishing last, but he’s not first either.

  10. Roberts has got to “manage” which means tough decisions sometimes, hurting the moral of 1 is better than hurting the moral of 27 other players. Plus players now days could hit a 150-180 mph straight ball so guess what they do with 90 mph Jansen straight ball…

  11. If changes are in the wind then a proven winner is Justin Turner. His contract is done this season and the Dodgers Organization will make a big mistake if they let him go. A great club-house leader, a true “All-Star”, Community Hero (with his wife), and a TRUE BLUE DODGER.

  12. Agree an alternative is needed for the closer role. As lovable as he is, its not Graterol, at least not yet. He’s given up runs in about 30% of the games he’s in, and that 100 mph heat isn’t blowing by many hitters. When they chose him over Treinen to pitch to Tatis last night, before I could utter oh oh, the ball was sent screaming over the center field wall. Gonzalez has been unbelievable, or if you are not going to use May as a true starter, he has that red hot/icy cool thing going for him along with unhittable stuff.

  13. I agree, it’s time for the Dodgers to find a new closer.

    Also, please don’t send him our there back-to-back nights!

  14. As sad as this is any Dodger Fan could have seen this coming now for the last couple years. Myself a life long Dodger Fan I have had to endure 45 years of watching postseasons pitching to Reggie Jackson in the 70’s to Tom Niedenfuer getting torched by Jack Clark and Ozzie Smith in the 80’s. Like a reoccurring nightmare I now have to endure Doc’s persistent poor decision making when it comes to using Jansen in the 9th inning. Let’s face it a closers shelf life is predicated on a few things. Command of his pitches after all a closer has to come in throwing strikes. Next, velocity and lastly confidence none of which Jansen no longer possesses. So based on this formula Doc can no longer put Jansen in these crucial situations. Easy right? Apparently NOT!!!!
    Please Andrew Friedman or Stan Kasten or Magic Johnson tell Doc that Jansen is no longer to close games in the postseason or ever for that matter. Blake Treinen is your new closer. He throws 98 and the ball sinks like a lead pipe. He has command of his pitches and is confident in a closers role. In other words he is the best equipped guy we have right now to help us close games and win a World Series. Bazooka Graterol has the velocity and confidence it takes but has no command and quite frankly hasn’t learned how to pitch yet so he cannot be trusted to close games right now. All the other guys can have their chance to contribute based on what your little black book tells you to do. Btw, how about using your gut feel? It’s what separates the computer from humans. Try it sometime.

  15. At this point the Dodgers can still move on without Jansen and Kelley, if Roberts can finally recognize this, then we’ll be in very good shape,… we still have the best ball pen in baseball,…. maybe not the best manager,.. but we have the best chance of winning it all!!!
    This is NOT the time for Roberts to continue to make bad decisions,… he has the best team in baseball right under his nose,…. you better recognize,… Roberts!!!

  16. Roberts does seem to be a lot quicker removing pitchers than he as been in past years, and that is all for the better. Hopefully, Roberts will continue this course of action as we step in against the Braves.
    Go Blue!!!

  17. Richard, you hit the nail on the head. We now face the Braves, and then, hopefully, a WS with the Yankees. Roberts is maturing as a manger!!! Now, we just need to stay injury-free. Go Blue!!!

  18. Someone should tell Dave Roberts, apparently he’s the only one that doesn’t know.

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