Kenley Jansen converted his elusive save opportunity, wrapping up the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday night. He struck out two of three batters faced.
The save was Jansen’s 20th this season and gave him 162 in his career, which puts Jansen in first place on the Dodgers’ all-time saves list. He surpassed Eric Gagne, who won the National League Cy Young Award in 2003 when he recorded 55 saves.
Gagne totaled 152 saves from 2002-04, finishing with no less than 45 saves in a season during that span. He reached 161 saves in 2006, at 545.1 career innings pitched. Jansen needed 378.1 innings to set the saves record.
The difference in innings can be explained by Gagne working as a starting pitcher until the 2002 season. Like Gagne, Jansen also converted to closer. Though, Jansen began his professional career in the bullpen after signing with the Dodgers as a catcher.
The Curacao native debuted with the Dodgers in 2010 and recorded four saves, then only five saves the following season. However, Jansen took a leap forward in 2012 by converting 25 of 32 save opportunities.
He then replaced a struggling Brandon League in July 2013, and the rest has been history. Jansen recorded a career-high 44 saves in 2014, and also averaged a career-best 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings that season.
The power right-hander missed the first 34 games in 2015 as he recovered from offseason foot surgery. He finished the year with 36 saves, a 2.41 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 0.78 WHIP and 80 strikeouts to eight walks in 52.1 innings pitched.
The Dodgers avoided arbitration with Jansen by agreeing to a one-year, $10.65 million contract. The 28 year old is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.