Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has established himself as one of the best relievers in all of baseball over the last decade or so, but for much of the 2018 season, he did not look like his usual self.
Jansen got off to a rough start to the season, but eventually found his way and was named a National League All-Star for the third consecutive season. He dealt with a heart issue in August and struggled upon returning.
That included the postseason when he blew back-to-back saves against the Boston Red Sox in the World Series by giving up solo home runs.
Jansen gave up a total of 15 home runs in 2018 combined between the regular and postseason, which was by far a career-worst. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman explained he believes the struggles were due to mechanical issues that began during Spring Training, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Friedman also said the club believes Jansen’s problems in 2018 — including a shocking increase in home runs allowed — was related to his mechanics, not his arm, and was probably impacted by a Spring Training hamstring injury that set him back.
Jansen still put up decent statistics, saving 38 games for the Dodgers while posting a 3.01 ERA, 4.03 FIP and 0.99 WHIP with 82 strikeouts and 17 walks in 71.2 regular-season innings.
The Dodgers were not quite the same team without their fearsome closer at the backend of the bullpen though, so the hope is that he can return to being his usual self in 2019.
Jansen is undergoing a second heart surgery this offseason, but the expectation is that he will be 100 percent healthy by the time Spring Training rolls around.