After a tumultuous start to the season, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has found success with mixed career numbers as one of the top closers in baseball.
The three-time All-Star ranks fourth among closers with 30 saves, behind Edwin Diaz (40), Craig Kimbrel (33) and Wade Davis (31).
With an ERA just south of 2.30, Jansen’s early season numbers did not mirror his previous stellar seasons. Jansen’s strikeout and walk rates have gone in opposite directions compared to his 2017 season.
This season, Jansen is allowing one home run and walking 2.4 batters every nine innings. Jansen is striking out 9.9 batters every nine innings, as well. Those numbers are down from last season when Jansen struck out 14.3 batters per nine innings and walked 0.9.
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In 33 save opportunities, Jansen has given up six long balls, tied for the most in his career.
While baseball is in an era where players are swinging for the faces, it is a rarity for Jansen to give up a home run.
During the 2017 season, where he finished 5th in Cy Young voting, Jansen was allowing less than one home run and walk per nine innings and was striking out 14.5 hitters in the same rate.
Jansen’s current numbers aren’t worrisome since he still ranks among the best in the game. But his performance was questionable early in the season and still lingers doubt now.
In Jansen’s first three appearances of the season, he faced 15 batters and allowed four runs in three innings pitched. He gave up two home runs, walked two hitters and struck out one batter in those innings.
Lack of control and decreased velocity added to Jansen’s early struggles. His signature cutter didn’t cut, which is vital to striking out pitchers.
The Dodgers believed Jansen’s light Spring Training program did not relate to his early season struggles. By early May, a month after the season started, Jansen found consistency on the mound and began to resemble a form that opposing batters feared.