The eye test and the numbers both painted a similar picture of Kenley Jansen in 2019. His overall stuff declined to the naked eye and could be seen within the data. The pitch that made Jansen arguably the best closer in baseball at a time, his cutter, stopped cutting as much as it used to.
The 32-year-old will enter camp as the Dodgers’ closer in 2020 and will be paid like one at an $18 million salary. However, he will only be worth that figure if his cutter gets back to what it used to be, his velocity finds an extra tick or two, and he becomes open to changing.
In a recent interview on MLB Network, Kenley Jansen appears to admit to doing all three things. According to him, he is now working with Driveline Baseball to bring his cutter back to life.
Kenley went to Driveline to look into what's been happening to his cutter? Oh boy, I am very intrigued to see what he looks like now. Hopefully we see an increase in vertical movement in 2020. https://t.co/ugiXVr4uks pic.twitter.com/ZGhgkh4yTp
— ? (@eccentricladdie) January 8, 2020
For those who do not know what Driveline Baseball, it is basically a baseball think tank that aims to revive players’ careers. It was founded by Kyle Boddy who is now within a major department for the Cincinnati Reds player development scheme. The program has been largely successful and many pitchers have found new life.
The Dodgers have committed to bringing Rob Hill of Driveline Baseball aboard and it should be nothing but help for Dodgers pitchers who have lost some — namely Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, and potentially even new acquisition Blake Treinen.
Jansen, 32, has some years left in him, for sure. This development, though, may elongate his career and save his job as the closer for the Dodgers.