Dave Roberts changes his stance on Kenley Jensen’s Game 1 performance

Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen, right, and catcher Will Smith celebrate a 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, right, celebrates with catcher Will Smith following the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts emerged from Game 1 on Wednesday discouraged by Kenley Jansen’s performance.

The closer produced the three outs needed in the ninth inning to seal the 4-2 win, but Roberts initially thought Jansen didn’t look good. He said Jansen’s stuff lacked “teeth.” He was alarmed when he threw an 86-mph cutter, five mph below his regular season average. Once Jansen walked the No. 9 batter in the Brewers’ lineup, Jace Peterson, a .227 career hitter, Roberts had Brusdar Graterol warming up in case the Dodgers’ two-run lead was put in further danger.

But Roberts changed his tune before Game 2 on Thursday. Roberts said Jansen’s performance was better than his original evaluation after watching the video. Asked if he offered a different opinion simply to instill confidence in Jansen, Roberts emphasized he was sincere.

Terrance Gore might not have a big role in the Dodgers’ postseason plans, but manager Dave Roberts knows the influence a base-running specialist can have.


“It’s better than I thought,” Roberts said. “And that’s a good thing for the Dodgers.”

The manager, however, acknowledged that Jansen’s dip in velocity over his last four outings is “not a good trend.” He said it wasn’t the result of a physical ailment. Before Wednesday’s game, Jansen, in an effort to reverse the pattern, spent time working on his mechanics on the Dodgers bullpen.

Roberts insisted Jansen “absolutely” remains the team’s closer. But it’s clear his every pitch will be closely scrutinized by decision makers.