The Dodgers have been without elite Kenley Jansen for a few years now. Since 2018, Kenley has not been that guy that comes into close games and instills confidence. He also didn’t get off to a great start in 2021 after blowing a save in Oakland.
Kenley also heard the crowd boo him in Los Angeles a week later when he walked the leadoff batter against the Rockies. But since his blown save in Oakland, Kenley has shown some really sharp stuff for the Dodgers.
He came out on Tuesday afternoon and did something Dodgers players and coaches have not seen in years. His cutter was moving like crazy, he was hitting his spots, and his velocity was off the charts. Dave Roberts talked a little about Kenley hitting 97 mph after the game:
I hadn’t seen 97 — a couple of 97s — in a while. It was really good. He’s worked really hard to stay within his delivery and keep his lower half strong and right. It was really exceptional, even that slider to punch (Kyle) Seager late was really good.
Doc wasn’t the only member of the Dodgers shocked by what they saw out of Kenley today. Austin Barnes talked about how he hasn’t seen that out of him in years, especially the velocity and movement on his pitches.
— Doug McKain (@DMAC_LA) April 20, 2021
It probably helped that Kenley was pitching on a few days of rest and no going back-to-back. The Dodgers have an unfortunate pattern of trying to use him on back-to-back games, and it almost never works out well.
If they can make him more of a part-time closer, they could have a lot of success with him.