The Dodgers best reliever this season might indeed be Kenley Jansen. Jansen has rediscovered some of his lost velocity this season and looks more confident on the mound.
Jansen credits his success to altering his offseason program with the help of the Dodgers Brandon McDaniel.
“Getting away from the heavy stuff. Doing more longevity running on the track to make me get quicker again. A lot of jumping. Try[ing] to move. Try[ing] to be athletic…long toss a lot and all that stuff and you’re starting to see it payoff.”
McDaniel has been with the Dodgers since 2013 and is currently the Director of Athletic Development and Performance. At this point, it’s safe to say that changing Jansen’s routine has paid dividends.
Jansen owns a 1.37 ERA and has been touching 94-95 MPH on some nights. He has the lowest ERA of the seven Dodger relievers who have thrown at least ten innings this season.
Another big reason for Jansen’s strong start has been the new pitch mix.
Jansen Cutter Percentage
- 2016: 86.7%
- 2017: 84.0%
- 2018: 83.6%
- 2019: 72.8%
- 2020: 62.1%
- 2021: 59.7%
Jansen has been using his best pitch, the cutter, less, and is still getting positive results. Rather than relying on just one pitch to get batters out, Jansen has mixed his sinker in more than ever. Jansen talked about the necessity to refine another pitch to pair with his cutter.
“It’s great to add another pitch. When your’e facing your divisions [rivals], they’ve seen so much. You definitely have to work on another pitch to mix in on them to protect your best pitch. I’m going to keep developing it [sinker] and I’m going to keep developing my slider also.”
At the expense of being a wet blanket, Jansen’s .111 BABIP proves he’s been a little lucky in 2021.
But when challenges arise this summer, he will have more than one tool to get the job done.