Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has not looked like his usual self to begin the season, as in his first outing against the San Francisco Giants he gave up what amounted to a game-winning home run to Joe Panik in a 1-0 loss.
What’s more, is that his velocity was around 89-90 mph, which is significantly lower than his usual 93-96 mph. Jansen made his second appearance of the season on Monday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, coming in for a save opportunity and a three-run lead to work with.
Jansen retired the first two batters faced but then failed to uphold the lead. He issued back-to-back walks, then surrendered a game-tying, three-run home run to Chris Owings.
It was the first time Jansen walked two batters in a regular-season appearance since Oct. 1, 2016. Though he blew the save, Jansen saw an uptick in his velocity, topping out at 92 mph.
But the two-time All-Star was seen massaging his pitching shoulder in the dugout as the 10th inning was about to begin.
Despite the early-season struggles, dip in velocity and shoulder rubbing, Jansen maintained after the Dodgers’ 15-inning marathon that he is healthy and dealing with mechanical issues, via Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
Kenley Jansen says he is healthy, but he is fighting his mechanics.
— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) April 3, 2018
Jansen is the anchor of the Dodgers bullpen and perhaps the most unreplaceable player on the team. So even though the Dodgers lost the series-opener to Arizona, Jansen has to be the team’s biggest concern right now.
Jansen was eased into things a bit this spring coming off a 2017 season in which he threw a career-high in innings, which could mean his arm is not in regular-season shape yet. But if the Dodgers want to win the National League West for the sixth consecutive season, they will need to get Jansen right.