Where are all the Kenley Jansen haters at? Did they go back under the bridge from whence they came?
Because the back end of the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen has not been the same in 2022. Of course, that has to do with Blake Treinen’s untimely and unexpected injury, but it also has to do with high-profile import Craig Kimbrel not getting the job done as closer.
Before the lockout, the Dodgers and Jansen reportedly spoke about a reunion, but LA was attempting to sort out their payroll issue and couldn’t get the right-hander under contract. Then came after the lockout, and the same dance ensued. Jansen eventually made the decision to sign a one-year, $16 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.
After signing Freddie Freeman, which was clearly atop the Dodgers’ to-do list, they then went ahead and traded outfielder AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox for Kimbrel in a move that helped LA remain under the $290 million luxury tax threshold (the final tier and highest tax bracket), which was reportedly a goal for the organization.
Had they signed Jansen without ridding other salary, they would have been over. However, couldn’t they simply have … signed Jansen and found a trade partner for Pollock and gotten a different return?
It’s worth wondering, since Pollock was a legitimate asset in 2021 and plenty of teams in need of cost-effective outfield help would’ve taken the plunge.
Do Dodgers fans who hated Kenley Jansen know what they’re missing?
Nonetheless, this has sparked a conversation surrounding the seemingly incessant disrespect Jansen received as the Dodgers’ closer despite his tremendous success.
In Atlanta, Jansen is 3-0 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.97 FIP, 0.87 WHIP, 12 saves and 29 strikeouts in 20.2 innings (20 games). His advanced metrics? Even better! The Dodgers sure could’ve used that … for the exact same price as Kimbrel.
On the other hand, LA’s new closer is 0-1 with a 4.80 ERA, 2.60 FIP (OK! Not bad), 1.40 WHIP, 10 saves and 21 strikeouts in 15 innings (16 games). His advanced metrics are also largely good … but the Dodgers should’ve known what they were getting themselves into when they let a franchise legend depart.
Outside of Kimbrel’s first half of last season with the Chicago Cubs, he’s largely been bad since 2019, and there’s a reason the Boston Red Sox didn’t re-sign him after their World Series-winning campaign in 2018. They saw the cracks with Kimbrel, who was making save opportunities much more difficult than they needed to be.
Constant traffic on the bases. Bad showing in the postseason (4.13 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 7 saves and 27 strikeouts in 24 career innings). Far too many walks for one’s liking. While Kimbrel’s a legend in his own right, Jansen has never had the kind of blowup seasons Kimbrel had in 2019, 2020 and during the second half of 2021. Not even close.
Though it seemed at the time the Dodgers might’ve been making a lateral move going from Jansen to Kimbrel, it just wasn’t the case. The only lateral aspect of it was the salary. The “Performance Late-in-Career” edge goes to Jansen, which should’ve been valued above all else.
Dodgers fans booing Jansen off the mound in 2021 at the first sight of his struggles and then again when he returned to Dodger Stadium this year as a member of the Braves just goes to show he was never appreciated as much as he should’ve been, despite having near-identical numbers to Kimbrel, who is likely a Hall-of-Fame-caliber closer.
Missing Jansen’s cutter yet? If you’re not yet, you will be after two or three more Kimbrel faceplants.