Dodgers manager Dave Roberts prides himself on his open communication with players. He believes he does a good job being honest with them and cultivating trust. As a result, what happened Tuesday night with Kenley Jansen bothered him.
Jansen, inserted in the game in the ninth inning to protect a two-run lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, took a 98-mph grounder off his right ankle from the leadoff hitter. He hobbled but shook off the Dodgers dugout, insisting he was fine. Three batters later, after his limp became more noticeable, Roberts emerged from the dugout with a trainer to check on Jansen. The closer maintained he could stay in the game.
About half an hour later, after Bryce Harper laced a game-winning two-run double, Jansen told reporters his ankle went numb, he couldn’t drive off the mound, and he should’ve taken himself out of the game.
“When you give certainty that you’re not compromising yourself or the team, then I’m going to trust it,” Roberts said Wednesday. “And so to then go back and say, ‘I should’ve come out of the game,’ then it’s a little bit tough to swallow.”
Jansen said the pain and swelling in his ankle had subsided Wednesday, but he was not going to partake in any activities. Roberts said Julio Urías or Joe Kelly would close if the situation arose. A stint on the injured list is not expected.
So Jansen will return to his role soon, looking to rebound from another ninth-inning letdown. Two years ago, the 31-year-old Jansen was, arguably, the best reliever in baseball. Last season, his cutter’s velocity dropped, his earned-run average climbed from 1.32 to 3.01, and he allowed 13 home runs after giving up nine the previous two years while dealing with a heart condition.
This season, Jansen, utilizing a slider more often to counter his velocity dip, has blown four saves in 27 opportunities and owns a 3.72 ERA in 38 appearances. Wednesday was the first time he allowed four runs in a game since Aug. 27, 2012.
Roberts pointed to Jansen’s velocity, command, and consistency with his delivery as reasons for his downward turn. But he insisted the team is not considering changing Jansen’s role in any way — “I don’t see that as a conversation that I’m even entertaining” — and maintained he remained confident in the closer.
“When we give him a baseball, I expect the game to be over,” Roberts said. “Obviously, the results aren’t what they were in ’17. And you can say that about a lot of players. So I think it’s just one of those things that he’s just got to continue to make pitches. But he’s the best we have and I still have full confidence when we give him the baseball.”
Hector Neris is suspended for hitting David Freese
Phillies closer Hector Neris was suspended three games by Major League Baseball after hitting the Dodgers’ David Freese with a pitch in the shoulder in the ninth inning Tuesday. MLB deemed Neris intentionally plunked Freese. The right-hander had given up a go-ahead, three-run home run to Matt Beaty in the previous at-bat.
Neris hit Freese with a 95-mph fastball in a 1-and-0 count. He was immediately ejected. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler also was tossed.
All-Access event Monday
The Dodgers will hold their sixth annual All-Access event Monday at Dodger Stadium from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Several current and former Dodgers will attend the event, which will include a silent auction, dinner on the infield, and two panel discussions. One will feature A.J. Pollock, Joe Kelly and Alex Verdugo. The other will include president Stan Kasten, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, and assistant general manager Brandon Gomes.
Tickets are $550 each and a table costs $5,000. Proceeds from the event will be split between the Dodgers Foundation and the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission.
Rich Hill is slated to throw Thursday for the first time since going on the injured list June 20 with a flexor tendon strain. Hill is expected to return in September. ... Thursday’s series finale between the Dodgers and Phillies will be the first game broadcast on YouTube. Scott Braun, Orel Hershiser and John Kruk will be on the call. First pitch is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. PDT. ... The Dodgers signed left-handed pitcher Jordan Martinson, who was selected in the 11th round by the New York Mets in last month’s draft but didn’t sign with the club before the July 12 deadline. Martinson was drafted as a senior out of Dallas Baptist. He had 100 strikeouts and a 2.61 earned-run average in 100 innings across 16 games.