After spending some time as the team’s closer in 2012, Kenley Jansen came into the 2013 season as the Dodgers’ setup man behind closer Brandon League. Jansen had 25 saves with a 2.35 ERA in 2012.
Regular Season Grade: A
The right-hander began the year behind League for the closer role and did well in his appearances as the setup man. League began to falter as the closer and Jansen began to slowly take over the role in May before becoming the full-time closer before the month was over. Overall, Jansen saved 28 games with a 1.88 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 76.2 innings.
Jansen’s ERA rose to 3.63 after a rough patch in the middle of the May before transitioning into the new role and working his ERA down the rest of the season. He appeared in 75 games and allowed just 16 total runs. In August, Jansen had his best month by allowing just one run with nine saves in 12 games. He blew just four saves on the season and finished 45 games for the Dodgers.
The 26-year-old finished fourth in the National League among closer in strikeouts-per-nine-innings and finished second among relievers in strikeouts. His WHIP was 0.86, good for second among NL relievers. Jansen had a very strong season and solidified his role as the Dodgers’ undisputed closer.
Playoff Grade: C+
Jansen had a very strong NLDS showing against the Atlanta Braves, pitching in three games and recording one save. In 2.1 innings, he gave up just one hit and struck out seven. Jansen emphatically ended the Dodgers’ Game 4 series-clinching victory with three strikeouts to close out the game.
In the NLCS, the right-hander struggled a bit beginning with the 13th inning in Game 1. Jansen was seen warming up in the bullpen in the extra innings, waiting for his chance to get in the game. He finally came in with runners on in the bottom of the 13th, but promptly gave up a hit to St. Louis Cardinals’ outfielder Carlos Beltran that ended the game. Also, in Game 6, Jansen came in for a non-save situation and allowed two runs, giving the Cardinals a chance to take the lead in what began as a 6-2 lead. Jansen would close the game out in what would be his last appearance in 2013.
Overall Grade: A-
The former catcher has now become a bonafide closer in the major leagues and had a very successful season for the Dodgers. Jansen’s dominant effort this season helped turn around a bullpen that struggled early in the season before becoming the second-best bullpen in baseball.
Jansen continues to work by way of strikeout and continues to put up league-leading numbers in several categories. He will come into the next season as the Dodgers’ closer and should not have a problem keeping that role.