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Dodgers Closer Kenley Jansen Confident in Revitalized Cutter

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this, but Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is just stopping short of proclaiming that he’s back. After a career-worst 2019 campaign, the veteran closer — fully healthy and well-rested in the off-season for the first time in years — took the advice of his agent and LA strength coach Brandon McDaniel to have his delivery “analyzed and adjusted” over the winter.

While he spent some deserved time off back home in Curacao, he also made time to visit the Washington-based Driveline Baseball development academy over the winter.

According to Ken Gurnick of dodgers.com, Jansen said “the result is a cutter with the rising life of his best years, and not the one that tailed into swing paths last year.”

Again, feels like something we heard often in 2019. However, the former All-Star didn’t visit Driveline in 2019. Instead he was often stubborn and standoffish when discussing his struggles during the season. Now, it seems, the big man is ready to take new steps forward.

I got to accept that I wasn’t at my best, and I’ve got to push through it to become a better pitcher.

Of his time with Driveline, Kenley shared some details of their work together.

Figured out some stuff. It went well. Learned to get back to where I used to be. My delivery changed so much, and you don’t even know that until they put all that stuff on your body and you figure out you lose eight percent on the cutter, eight percent on the rising. They give you exercise to put you back in position to fire the ball again.

It feels like the ball has life on it. That’s what everybody’s telling me. One thing I see: It doesn’t go down, it stays in one lane.

Related: Remaking Dodgers Closer Kenley Jansen

Notably, Jansen will have even more support from the Dodgers coaching staff in 2020. Longtime pitching coach Rick Honeycutt — the only major league coach Kenley has ever known — stepped into a front office role. Mark Prior took a step forward as the new pitching coach while Josh Bard returned to the organization as bullpen coach. Moreover, former Driveline instructor Rob Hill will join the Dodgers staff this season as pitching coordinator.

Of the revitalized staff, Bard was the bullpen coach for LA from 2016-2017, better known as two of Jansen’s more dominant seasons (88 saves, 1.38 FIP in 136 combined games). And Hill could step in to help the Dodger closer on the analytical side of things, if he loses his way.

With relievers Blake Treinen, Joe Kelly, and the newly acquired Brusdar Graterol in tow for Los Angeles, there appears to be plenty of options if Jansen should falter. But the best possible team the Dodgers could field has the big man closing it out at the end of ballgames in 2020.

NEXT: Blake Treinen Not Trying to Steal Kenley’s Job

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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  1. I think every MLB team should fire all of their pitching coaches all the way from single A through the majors, and just have Drive line plug into all of their pitchers since apparently none of the coaches can figure out the problems. All these guys go to Drive line and wah lay! They’ re all fixed , oils changed, tuned up, don’t even need spring training!! Let’s start the games!!

  2. Kenley might be one the most important players this year if he has figured it out. There might be others on the roster who could step in but they’re not a sure thing either. Go Kenley go!

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