After struggling through the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Kenley Jansen and the Los Angeles Dodgers were optimistic this year would bring about improved results. That was founded on Jansen being healthy and joining the growing list of players to visit Driveline Baseball.
Jansen had moments where he pitched well during Spring Training but any momentum he started to generate was washed away when baseball halted all operations due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Jansen wound up reporting late to Summer Camp due to he and his family contracting the virus, and he again struggled to sustain any sort of consistency.
That carried into the playoffs and while the Dodgers have not outwardly stated as much, Jansen seemingly was removed from his role as the unquestioned closer. After a week of not appearing in a game, he pitched in the sixth inning of a Dodgers’ blowout of the Atlanta Braves.
But then with the Dodgers looking to stay alive in the National League Championship Series, Jansen was back on the mound in the ninth inning to with a four-run lead. He successfully closed out Game 6, striking out the side.
Jansen said “everything clicked” in the appearance and it was a result of working on ensuring his arms, leg and delivery are synced together. That process was aided by Jansen speaking with former Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and Charlie Hough.
“I’ve been doing a lot of stuff lately. Dry work, went back to the basics with Charlie Hough, having good phone calls with him and Rick Honeycutt,” Jansen said.
“They showed me pictures of the past and how everything was working together. Kind of get back to that to make my delivery simple, like it was, and repeat. Just got to keep going out there and help the team win. …
“They both text me, I reached out to them too. We had good conversations and it helped. This organization is first class. It’s how everybody cares. It showed me again. I tried to find my mechanics, delivery and all that stuff, and they reached out.”
Jansen also maintained he never lost confidence in himself and reiterated his focus is on helping the Dodgers win more so than be recognized as the team’s closer. “I got the ball earlier before in the playoffs. Ain’t no role in the playoffs,” Jansen said.
“Just when can you be in the best position to help your team win. I’ve been here for a long time now and there’s nothing better than to have a ring with this organization. I feel like that’s the last thing we need to accomplish here. We want it for everyone. The fans deserve it. It’s about winning a championship here.”
Dodgers confident in Jansen
Following their win in Game 5, several Dodgers spoke highly of Jansen’s dominant appearance and remarked it was reminiscent of his previous form.
“He looked good, he was attacking guys, it was coming in good, he was hitting spots,” Will Smith said. “He looked good. We’re going to need him these next two games.”
Roberts added: “That was one of the highlights for all of us to see the way he commanded the baseball, he attacked and closed the game out. That was really good to see. … I was really pleased. He’s been working through some delivery things, so there was a softer landing a couple days ago.
“This one, I wanted him to close this game out. He came out, the velocity ticked up, he was staying above the belt and pitching at the top of the zone, which was really good. He’s one of the guys. Treinen and Kenley are the guys that miss bats. To see what he did was a big thing for the Dodgers.”
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