As the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing their way to the first of three World Series appearances in four years, Kenley Jansen was at his peak and widely regarded as the best relief pitcher in baseball.
But when it came time for the Dodgers to capture their first title since 1988, Jansen was relegated to watching from the bullpen. He had last been on the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the World Series.
The Dodgers lost that game in walk-off fashion and Jansen took the blown save. The sting was eased by L.A. rebounding to win the next two games and championship.
While that alleviated mounting pressure on the Dodgers, there is still plenty on Jansen’s shoulders. Particularly with this being a contract year for the 33-year-old. So Jansen adjusted his offseason workouts in effort to change his body composition and improve mechanically.
“Just efficiency. How efficient I can be, how I can attack hitters and make pitches,” Jansen said of his focus this spring. “I feel like the last few years my command wasn’t there, so that was my No. 1 priority this offseason. I put my body in position to have great command again.
“It’s basically how good of shape can you be to repeat your delivery over and over and over again. That’s what I feel I’m doing so far. This offseason and Spring Training, how can I keep repeating my delivery over and over again so I can continue to attack the zone and throw strikes instead of a meatball on the plate that’s flat and can get hit.
“The efficiency I’m talking about is how good of shape I can be in to repeat my delivery over and over again to make pitches where I want.”
The results have been striking thus far as the embattled closer has allowed just one run and struck out 10 of 21 batters faced over six innings. Earlier this spring Jansen came within a strike of an immaculate inning.
“I’m feeling great. Feel good, just got to keep working hard. I feel great,” he said. “One day at a time I try to get better. … At the end of the day I know who I am and what I’m capable of doing.”
Although Jansen has faced criticism and questions over his ability, the Dodgers have continued to publicly support him. Manager Dave Roberts previously declared Jansen still retained his role as the team’s closer, and it’s a sentiment the sixth-year manager reiterated Wednesday.
Jansen not worried about free agency
While it could be easy for Jansen to begin wondering what the future may hold, free agency is not a focus of his. “I’m thankful, I’m grateful to be a part of one of the most historic organizations in the Dodgers,” he said.
“I’m not going to take anything for granted. The love that I’ve got for this organization I will always have no matter what happens in the future. I’m not going to take anything for granted wearing the Dodger Blue.”
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