Kenley Jansen has had a rebound season for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is locked into the postseason closer role after a 2020 campaign where the team used a closer by committee in October.
Jansen has posted a 2.22 ERA and 3.08 FIP in 69 innings while saving 38 games in 43 chances. In the previous three seasons, the 34-year-old had posted ERAs of 3.01 (2018), 3.71 (2019) and 3.33 (2020) partly due to inconsistent mechanics, a drop in velocity and a lack of control.
However, in 2021, Jansen has seemed to fix most of his problems by placing an emphasis on his mechanics, which has led to a resurgent season.
One of the main results Jansen is seeing is improvement with his command, which he now feels has been terrific in the last month, via SportsNet LA:
“It’s definitely good. That’s the one thing I wasn’t happy about earlier this year, the lack of command compared to normally where I’m at. But the second half of the season, I started to get better, and [September] has been terrific. Definitely have to keep on working on it and attacking hitters.”
In September, Jansen threw 12.1 innings and stuck out 27.8% of hitters while walking 8.9%, a nice step below the 13.2% he has walked for the season.
In the first half of the season, the right-hander was walking more than 15% of hitters and striking out less than 30%, but in the second half he has stuck out nearly 34% while walking just fewer than 11%.
Jansen had a run of three straight blown saves near the end of July, but other than that, the closer has been nearly perfect.
The Dodgers will need him to keep pitching well through October so Blake Treinen can remain in the valuable fireman role.
Roberts believes Jansen has been most consistent closer
The Dodgers bullpen has been the second-best in baseball by run prevention with a 3.14 ERA across 602 innings pitched, and a lot of that is thanks to Jansen, who has helped anchor the back of the bullpen for manager Dave Roberts.
Despite a rough string of appearances against the San Francisco Giants, Roberts believes Jansen has been the most consistent closer.
“Kenley’s been fantastic for us all year,” Roberts recently said. “Every player — position or pitcher — is going to have a couple rough stretches.
“It happened to Kenley right after the break, but outside of that he’s been fantastic and probably more consistent than any closer in the big leagues. I don’t want to imagine where we would be without him.”
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