Kenley Jansen is one of the premier Closers in all of baseball. Only a few Closers are at the same level as Jansen: Wade Davis, Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman. Though, Jansen has seen his fair share of struggles this season and last season. He has lacked the fire that he possessed a few seasons ago in 2017. From 2015-2017, it could be argued that Kenley Jansen was the most dominant Closer in baseball.
In January 2017, the Dodgers signed Kenley Jansen to a 5 year, $80 Million contract. After signing that deal, Jansen helped the Dodgers reach their first World Series since 1988. Immediately following the 2017 season, the Dodgers stormed back to the World Series for the second year. There is no doubt that without Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers would not have been able to reach both World Series.
So what is the deal with Kenley Jansen?
Lots of “fans” will say that it was the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros that broke him. Jansen did not have a strong World Series in 2017, that is a fact. Jansen blew two saves against the Astros, in Game 2 and Game 5. This isn’t a reason that Jansen should be struggling in 2019, though. If anything, the 2017 World Series only slowed down Jansens’ 2018 season.
When Spring Training rolled around in 2018, the Dodgers, fresh off their World Series appearance, decided that they would take extra time to ease into their Spring. Kenley Jansen was one of the few Dodgers that did not benefit from the extra time. Once Opening Day arrived, Jansen was not fully capable of being the Dodgers closer right off the bat. His velocity was down and he was dealing with a minor injury. At the end of the season, Jansen’s 2018 stats were: 1-5 with a 3.01 ERA and 38/42 Saves. If you take away the Wins and Losses, which shouldn’t necessarily matter for a Closer, and you get a Closer that had a great year. Yes, you’d like his ERA to be a bit lower, maybe closer to the low 2’s, but oh well. A successful season despite the hiccups from early on.
Fast forward to 2019. Jansen currently has 23 Saves in 27 opportunities and has a 3.72 ERA. These numbers are drastically different than those that he posted in 2018. In 2018, Jansen only had 4 blown saves in the entire season! He’s got 4 blown saves in 2019 and we are only in July. This is now starting to cause concern amongst fans. Jansen pitches great except when the situation becomes stressful. Then, he starts to flutter and gives up big hits. Whatever it is that is bothering Kenley Jansen, he better figure it out. July is trade season and the Dodgers are looking at big arm relievers that can close games if they need to. That shows that even the Front Office is showing some of the same concerns as fans.
With all that being said, Kenley Jansen is still a 3X All Star and a 2X NL Reliever Of The Year winner. In case this comes off as critical or hating on Jansen, don’t be worried. I’m not hating on Jansen, I still think that he is a premier closer in baseball. I also think that the Dodgers would not have as many wins as they do without Jansen closing out games. Kenley Jansen is a valuable commodity for the Los Angeles Dodgers and they need him to be 100% for the remainder of the season in order to be victorious in the playoffs and hopefully the World Series.