Los Angeles without a doubt has a man in the bullpen who can carry their team. Yes, typically a lead is necessary, for the Dodgers to see their star-studded closer enter into a game. If and when that indeed happens, Jansen has been almost untouchable.
Having exceeded virtually every expectation this season, from start to finish, The Big Man has been securing wins with his guys on his back. It has been tough to find a time where Kenley has not seen effortless success for the Dodgers, and that likely stems from the experience he was able to gain last season.
After battling late into the postseason last year, the 2017 season started off with a different mentality for the Dodgers, and more specifically, Kenley Jansen.
What seemed like a team that was ‘almost there’ last year, now features a team with more confidence and a chip on their shoulder. At the back-end of this squad full of workhorses, the Dodger closer gained valuable knowledge of himself from performing deep into the 2016 playoffs.
Pitching through tight situations just became the norm for Kenley, and he was asked to be that centerpiece to get the job done when he re-signed with the Dodgers in the offseason.
Higher pitch-counts, dominating in the clutch and ultimately, putting opponents to sleep – that has been Kenley Jansen. When your typical closer considers such examples to be ‘stressful’ situations, Kenley takes it all in stride. A strong postseason mentality seemingly became the focus on a nightly basis for ‘Kenleyfornia.’
Every aspect of improvement ties in with the outcomes that Jansen has been providing for the Dodgers, every night. Hitters around the league have faced a more difficult pitcher after he was able to notch his game up to another level. The historic K: BB ratio at the start of the season was just a taste of what was – and still is – a different monster.
Jansen has torn through this entire season with an ERA never reaching 2.00, while also tagging along with a K: BB ratio hovering around 15:1 throughout most of 2017.
Mowing down hitters has come with such ease from incorporating hesitation within his pitch-delivery, mixing in the odd slider or simply pounding the zone.
He who wears number 74 for the Dodger blue, has only known how to battle throughout the entirety of the year; and he looks to be the leader who carries that into playoffs.
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Sure, Clayton Kershaw might be our guy, because, he too – during any given outing – can be his own closer. As we all know though, wins do not always come that easy in baseball, and especially when it turns to October.
However, the magic that was created by the duo last year may have lit the fire that still burns deep with the two. Dating back to Game Five of the 2016 NLDS, the bond between the two veterans became unbreakable after a clutch victory fueled it.
Both combined for a monumental ending to win the Divisional Series – and they now see themselves in a more prepared mindset going into this postseason. No workload has appeared as ‘too stressful’ or had any feeling of doubt, whatsoever, with the Dodgers.
Having the experience under their belt, there is a lot of promise weighing on Dodger superstars. And when that call to the ‘pen needs to be made, in-order to chalk up the wins this postseason, Los Angeles will look no further than Kenley Jansen to bring the team over another hurdle.
Assuming that all goes well, he could very well be the X-factor to end this magnificent run with a World Series Championship.