The biggest concern for the Los Angeles Dodgers all season long has been how effective their bullpen will be once October rolls around, and that starts with Kenley Jansen.
It is no secret that Jansen hasn’t quite been his old dominant self this season, although he also hasn’t been as bad as some make him out to be, either. In 47 games, Jansen has pitched to a 3.59 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 1.05 WHIP, 63 strikeouts and 11 walks in 47.2 innings while converting 26 of 31 save attempts.
Jansen’s 2019 season is similar to last year in the sense that he has been good, but some appearances have definitely raised concern. That wasn’t the case in 2016 and 2017 when he was perhaps the most dominant reliever in all of baseball.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman weighed in on why he feels that’s the case, and he pointed to Jansen’s mechanics as being the key for the right-hander to recapture his elite form, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“It’s a big man and there’s a lot of moving parts. For the longest time it was a mindless exercise, where he was just able to go out and repeat and repeat and repeat. I think it really started with the hamstring injury in Spring Training last year, where he kinetic chain, the body just got a little bit out of whack. Now there’s reminders in getting him back on track. The problem is you don’t want him thinking about it too much when he’s competing out there. So it’s that balance of getting the work in on the side where it becomes muscle memory but not thinking about it too much when he’s out there competing. …
“The good thing is that elite guy is still in there and we still see it way more often than not. There’s just times where it’s a little bit more fleeting, and we have to do a better job of locking that in and getting it out there on a consistent basis.”
The Dodgers didn’t make a splashy trade for a reliever such Felipe Vazquez at the July 31 deadline like many anticipated they would. Instead, the club is banking on Jansen righting the ship, and rookies Tony Gonsolin and/or Dustin May potentially contributing as well.
In addition to emphasizing his mechanics, the Dodgers have also changed Jansen’s usage in recent weeks. Jansen is expected to pitch at least once in each series for the rest of the season, which should help him be able to work on his mechanics on a more consistent basis.