The Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen was dominant in Wednesday’s 6-0 win over the San Diego Padres, continuing a theme that has played out time and time again this season.
Blake Treinen got things started in the fifth by striking out Fernando Tatis Jr. to end the Padres’ threat. He returned to the mound in the sixth, notching two additional strikeouts and retiring all three batters.
Pedro Baez and Brusdar Graterol followed suit with one scoreless inning apiece. Scott Alexander ran into some trouble in the ninth, but Kenley Jansen was there to put out the fire, striking out two batters in a clean inning of work to preserve the Dodgers’ shutout.
For the longtime Dodgers closer, it marked his seventh scoreless appearance in eight tries this season. “I think just being me and stop worrying about the extra stuff,” Jansen said of his early success.
“Just try to be athletic out there on the mound, release the ball and let it happen. I put a lot of good work in during the offseason with Driveline and all that stuff. At some point it’s like you put too much work in, and you just need to be you and let it happen.”
Jansen elaborated on what he meant by just being himself. “It’s just don’t worry about all the extra stuff, about the mileage and all that other stuff,” he explained.
“Just let it happen. My fastball always has great movement. Instead of creating the movement or velocity, just give it a good extension and let it happen.”
Given his struggles from a year ago, Jansen felt getting off to a strong start this season was especially important. “I know what I did in the past,” he began.
“The standards that I have, everybody expects me to do good, and I expect myself to do good. I think it’s good for everybody to see when you struggle you can turn the page and become a better pitcher.
“That season helped me develop my two-seamer and slider even more. I feel like I’m a complete pitcher now. You just learn from it. If that didn’t happen, I probably wouldn’t learn from it. You just have to move forward.”
While he considers himself a three-pitch reliever now, Jansen continues relying heavily on his cutter, throwing it roughly 75% of time. “If you want to put it that way, yeah. It’s just to keep hitters honest,” he said.
“Listen, if I’ve developed two pitches and I feel like they’re pretty good, why not use them? If I feel like I can throw them in any counts, they’re good and the hitters (swings) can tell me what they’re doing, I feel like that’s going to make my cutter better.
“That’s the reason I want to continue developing my other pitches, to just have an extra strength and learn how to pitch. I don’t have to keep throwing cutters, get to 20 pitches. If I can do it in nine or 10 pitches, that’s better for my arm.”
In eight appearances thus far, Jansen has compiled a minuscule 1.13 ERA, 2.32 FIP and 0.75 WHIP with nine strikeouts and a National League-best four saves across eight innings pitched.
Jansen on the mend
Jansen’s strong start is all the more impressive considering he is still feeling the effects of his previous bout with the coronavirus (COVID-19).
“I’m still trying to get to 100%,” he recently said. “It definitely messes up your conditioning and when you try to breathe. Sometimes you get shortness of breath. It definitely takes a toll on your body. It’s not a virus to play around with.
“Even if you beat it, you might feel relief, but you see what it does to your body, and for your body to get back to normal it’s going to take time.”
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