Dodgers: 3 spring performances forgotten amid the shutdown
The Dodgers closer, Kenley Jansen, who has vacillated between dominant and susceptible to blowing a key lead, as relief pitchers tend to do, was extremely effective in spring camp. In six appearances, he struck out eleven of the eighteen batters he faced, allowing only four hits and one earned run.
It’s a promising sign for the veteran closer who had his worst season last year, leading to manager Dave Roberts losing faith in him during the postseason. Jansen saw his ERA jump to 3.71 last season, his walk rate up nearly two runs from his personal best season in 2017, and his ground ball rate the lowest in his career.
The right-hander worked on improving his delivery during the offseason, visiting Driveline Baseball at the recommendation of his agent, as well as Dodgers strength and conditioning coach, Brandon McDaniel.
Jansen has relied on his cutter since 2016 when he had his breakout season in the bullpen, saving 47 games to a sparking 1.83 ERA. He continued to use the pitch with dominant results until last season, when opposing hitters had a .429 slugging percentage against the offering.
Experimenting with a new approach during the spring, Jansen tried throwing less cutters, and the results speak for themselves.
It will be interesting to see if Jansen continues to mix up his pitch types whenever real baseball returns. The Dodgers need him to return to form in order to compete for a world championship.