The Dodgers may not be back to baseball quite yet, but that hasn’t stopped players from thinking ahead. One of those guys is Kenley Jansen, a closer coming off of a pair of down years from the bullpen. Jansen was arguably the best closer in the game as recently as 2017, but the wheels fell off the following season.
Over the past two years, Jansen has been noticeably irritated in post-game interviews. And why not? After locking down almost 98 percent of his save opportunities, Kenley blew four saves in 2018 and eight saves in 2019. It’s been a rough couple of years for a gut that has been used to completely shutting down opposing hitters.
One of the biggest issues for Jansen has been a nagging hamstring injury from 2018 Spring Training. That hamstring injury ultimately messed with Jansen’s mechanics and changed everything about the way he exposes the ball to the hitter. Luckily, he was able to learn this through his Drive Line experience this past offseason.
Through motion-capture video analysis, Jansen realized that his stride had shortened up and his arm slot drifted enough to let hitters see the ball earlier. That would certainly explain a nearly forty point increase in opposing batting average from 2017 to 2019. While the change is much needed, Kenley knows that he’s the man for the Dodgers.
Listen – everybody can have down times, good times. But you always have to carry your confidence out there to get better. I trust myself. I’m always gonna trust myself and I’m never going to stop trusting myself.
Jansen looked much better in his spring outings for the Dodgers than he has the past two years. His velocity was way up, his cutter was actually cutting, and he was hitting all of his spots. Manager Dave Roberts is aware of it too, noting that Jansen’s success is vital to the team’s ultimate goal of bringing a championship back to Los Angeles.
It’s vital. It’s vital. To have a guy at the back end with his pedigree, it’s vital.
Here’s hoping that we’re getting 2017 Kenley Jansen back and that the Dodgers get to start playing sooner rather than later.