Kenley Jansen thrust himself into the national spotlight with heroic performances during the 2016 postseason, then followed it up with a remarkable campaign the following year. However, he’s yet to meet the lofty expectations that have been set since that point.
Jansen was handled with caution during Spring Training last year, which ultimately threw him off course come the regular season. He was on a more regular schedule this past spring, yet still has dealt with some velocity and command issues.
Jansen blew a pair of saves within a two-week span, with the second coming against the San Diego Padres on Hunter Renfroe’s walk-off grand slam. It prevented the Dodgers from completing a sweep at Petco Park and represented a turning point of sorts for the right-handed closer.
A string of encouraging appearances was snapped when Anthony Rizzo hit a game-winning home run off Jansen on Saturday night. It followed Kris Bryant getting hit by Jansen’s first pitch to begin the ninth inning.
He voiced frustration over a lack of command across the board, which began in the bullpen, via SportsNet LA:
“Both of them. Just being wild with a few pitches. Even that ball he took me deep, that wasn’t meant to be there; it was supposed to be a fastball away. The ball just kind of went in and he got me. Just being wild to my first hitter was frustrating.
“Even in the bullpen I was trying to grind, trying to feel. Just a frustrating day today overall. … They’re a good team but like I said, me being wild today, it was more me today. Listen, Rizzo is a really good hitter. Me being not under control, he’s a really good hitter so he’s going to get you if you continue to miss. I missed two bad pitches away and then tried to make an adjustment and yanked it going in. He got me on that. You’ve got to respect they’re a really good team.”
Prior to Saturday, Jansen had gone 8-for-8 on save opportunities, thrown 10.1 scoreless innings and held opponents to a .114/.162/.229 batting line over 10 appearances since Renfroe’s grand slam.
Jansen attributed the stretch to reviewing film and working with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to correct mechanical issues. The Dodgers sit comfortably with the best record in the National League at present time but will need Jansen to ensure his latest blown save was a blip in the radar than sign of what’s ahead if they hope to capture an elusive World Series.