Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have played 118 games, a sense of routine and scheduled activities take over the players. During game days, the players all have set times and procedures to go through to prepare for a game to be played, but there are certain things in life that allow baseball to take a step aside.
Kenley Jansen, the lockdown closer for the Dodgers, experienced a roller coaster of emotions on Sunday. His wife delivered a son, Kaden Jansen, early Sunday morning at a local hospital. The procedure apparently was an induced labor, with a lot of thought behind it. Monday was set for a travel day as the team embarks on an eight-game road trip, where the Dodgers wouldn’t return to Chavez Ravine until they face the Chicago Cubs on August 29. Jansen and his wife thought this method would be the better decision, compared to Jansen leaving for the trip and risking not playing multiple games to make his way back to Los Angeles.
The 27-year-old elaborated manager Don Mattingly on the situation and about his arrival. “I talked to her and I talked to Donnie and those guys. I got to come late, but I will come regardless,” he stated. The closer was asked of something that he hasn’t done in roughly a year, a four-out save. Nonetheless, the closer finished the job and recorded two strikeouts on his way to his 24th save of the season.
After the game, Jansen was asked if he felt exhausted and stated, “It was fun and was a very exciting day for me today. I didn’t have much sleep, but still I go by the excitement and feed off of it.”
His save on Sunday marked the 130th of his career, passing Jeff Shaw for second all-time on the Dodgers’ save list. The accomplishment puts him only behind Eric Gagne, the illustrious closer for the Dodgers during the 2000s. When asked if he relished passing Shaw, Jansen remained adamant that the only concern for him is earning victories for his ball club. “We were just talking about that and that is great, but obviously I’m trying to get as much saves as I can and it is all about winning for me,” Jansen stated. “I’m focused on winning and not looking at my stats. It feels great to be second all time for one of the most historic organizations.”
The five-year veteran’s arsenal of pitches, including his devastating cutter, has proven yet again to be a lot for hitters to handle at the plate. Jansen’s thought process has matured during his tenure with the Dodgers, allowing him to gain a sense of confidence in his pitches. “I’m always a strike out guy. You just got to trust in your stuff and what you got, your location, and also the fact to get ahead early, especially with my stuff I had early,” Jansen proclaimed. “It is going to be tough for hitters to face me so that is why I’m working on trying to stay ahead most of the time and keeping it tight.”
When talking to Mattingly before the game, the skipper stated that Jansen belongs in the Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel level of closers. After the game, reporters asked Jansen if he agreed with Mattingly and he remained humble in his self-evaluation. “I’ve been doing it consistently for a while. I’m not going to worry about stuff with people,” Jansen said. “For me it’s just not worrying and hitters will tell. Once you face a couple of hitters they will tell you how tough I am. That’s the most respect.”
In 34 appearances this season, Jansen has a 2.48 ERA, 1.94 FIP, 149 ERA+, and 0.70 WHIP. The drastic improvement the right-handed pitcher has dealt is the decline in walks allowed. In 2014, he allowed 19 walks on the season for a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 5.32. Through 32.2 innings pitched this season, Jansen has only allowed four walks and is putting forth a 14.75 ratio.