Dodgers News: Kenley Jansen Uses Clayton Kershaw As Motivation
Kevin Sullivan/OC Register

Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is having one of the best seasons ever for a reliever, as he set a Major League record by striking out 51 batters to begin the season without issuing a walk.

Coming off a dominant postseason, Jansen has proven to be worth every penny of the five-year, $80 million contract he signed to remain with the Dodgers during the offseason. He rejected a more lucrative offer from the Washington Nationals and interest from the Miami Marlins.

Re-signing Jansen was part of the Dodgers’ moves to return much of the same core from last year’s team that finished two wins why of reaching the World Series. Their decision has paid dividends, as the Dodgers hold the best record in baseball.

With Jansen received a lucrative contract during the winter, he was cognizant of not becoming complacent and looked to none other than Clayton Kershaw as motivation, according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times:

“To be honest, man, I just saw Kershaw,” Jansen said. “Kershaw is always my motivation. Always. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, well-paid, all that stuff. He wants to be the best every day. That’s what I wanted to be too.”

Kershaw and Jansen are both home-grown products and are among the longest-tenured players in the Dodgers organization. In a strange twist that came to light last October, Kershaw’s first professional save came in the Minors with Jansen as his catcher.

Kershaw’s work ethic is the stuff of legend, and though Jansen doesn’t receive the same praise, the hard-throwing closer is viewed in similar light and as one of the team’s leaders.

Jansen this season is 5-0 with a 1.20 ERA, 1.23 FIP, 0.67 WHIP, and 32 saves in 33 opportunities. He’s recorded at least four outs in 11 of 50 games. Jansen’s success earned him a second consecutive selection to the National League All-Star Game.