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Dodgers: Kenley Jansen Motivated by Bullpen Competition Says Former Dodgers GM

Sportsnet LA’s Ned Colletti believes that the success of Corey Knebel and Blake Treinen coupled with doubt from fans and analysts fueled Jansen’s spectacular Sunday save.



Kenley Jansen brought out some vintage stuff for this past Sunday’s ninth inning against the Nationals. Jansen certainly heard the doubts about him from the media and fans after blowing a save opportunity earlier in the week against the then winless Oakland Athletics.

Former Dodgers GM Ned Colletti joined AM 570’s David Vassegh after the Dodgers finished their sweep of Washington. Jansen flat out dominated the Nationals in the ninth inning (2 K, 0 H, 8 pitches) to seal the victory.

Colletti credited the success of fellow relievers Corey Knebel and Blake Treinen for motivating Jansen. Colletti thinks that competition will push Jansen throughout the season.

“Let’s face it, nobody has really threatened Kenley for years. Now you saw competition. You saw how Knebel threw the other day. We’ve seen how Treinen’s thrown for more than a year. There’s some competition there.”

Jansen’s cutter has averaged 91.5 MPH over the last several seasons (2018-2021). In his prime, his dynamic cutter averaged 93.7 MPH (2014-2017).

However, on Sunday, Jansen’s signature pitch averaged 93 MPH. In fact, seven of Jansen’s eight pitches clocked in at 93 MPH or higher. A rarity these days for the Dodgers closer warhorse. 

Knebel and Treinen have been both All-Stars and logged seasons of at least 35 saves in the past. Knebel has already collected two saves in the first ten games of the season. Jansen certainly took notice.

“It’s not like they haven’t pitched the ninth innings. Two of them have had big time years behind them. I think it helps. I think it’s one of the attributes of this club – competition. Guys want to play. Everyone wants to win and they all love each other. But, they do want to play.”

Time will tell if angry, hard-throwing Kenley is here to stay. The way manager Dave Roberts has been using Treinen, and more so, Knebel, have put Jansen on notice. If the Dodgers all-time saves leader can’t consistently shut the door, he will be replaced.

Whether it’s the rotation, the lineup, or the bullpen, it’s always a competition on the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Written by Eric Eulau

Born and raised in Ventura, not "Ven-CH-ura", California. Favorite Dodger Stadium food is the old school chocolate malt with the wooden spoon. Host of the Dodgers Nation 3 Up, 3 Down Podcast.

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    • Yep. It’s the Twilight zone. There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is only apparent to DR and Jansen. The rest of us want to win games. Jansen started out OK last year, and faded into far less than mediocrity as the season progressed. And we only played 60 games. He has already blown one save, which accounts for half the Dodger losses this year.

  1. Jansen has been a top competitor for man years and can find his way back if he wants to bad enough. He may have seen what he stands to lose if he doesn’t bring his absolute best every opportunity. The Dodgers are destined to be a dynasty as dominant as any in the games history and any player wants to be part of that. Seager is faced with that also. If he leaves for bigger bucks he may never see a championship again. He has to consider trying to compete with his old team after leaving.

    • Kenley Jansen, was a competitor, Kenley can’t turn back the clock for a mulligan. He is no longer the Kenley of the past, only wishful thinking. Can’t be counted on to “close” the door as a closer. Cannot go into a critical moment of a game on the line, especially in later part of the season. Can’t pitch with less than 4 days rest.

      Corey Seaver’s agent Scott Boris and the Dodgers will ultimately determine Corey’s future. If Corey puts up a monster season, Scott Boris will squeeze every last drop of blood from the turnip given how the lettuce been flying this pass off-season. Corey have earned it.

      Dynasty? What’s the ingredients in the primordial soup?

  2. Knebel should be the closer. You know what to expect from him when he takes the mound in the 9th…a save. Jansen is coin flipper. Every time he takes the mound, you stand a good chance of losing. Why throw away hard fought wins? It may come down to 1 or 2 games with the Padres by the end of the season. DR and Jansen have already thrown one game away. It won’t take many to hand the division to the Padres. All games count. Even the early ones.

  3. Wait a minute. So, it took two other relievers that showed they were great alternatives to KJ for KJ to become motivated to pitch well as the closer? Does that mean KJ wasn’t motivated in the past to bring his best stuff to the closers role because there weren’t any other alternatives to the Dodgers to go to that sufficiently motivated him?

    I would think keeping his job and showing the baseball world he was still great at what he does was motivation enough.

  4. I said this earlier, but, it got lost I think. But, I have to say it again.

    So, we’re to believe that KJ hasn’t been sufficiently motivated to bring his best stuff because he hasn’t been properly motivated by competition in the bullpin? So, whenever he lost a save we’re to believe he just wasn’t trying hard enough because the Dodgers had no other alternative but to go to KJ as their closer? So, he’s always had the same old stuff that made the opposing team just close up their tent and go home, but, he just wasn’t sufficiently motivated enough to throw just a little harder to get the 3 or 4 mph on his cutter. But, now he is because of the added competition. OK. That explains it.

  5. I like it. Now we have 3 guys who can close games at anytime. 3 guys with different stuff give options, only if 1 of them were LH. Great adjustment by KJ on his delivery, Knebel getting stronger after TJ surgery, Treinen showing the closer look w/ some nasty sinkers. Keep that competition going then the bullpen will be awesome along w/ the other guys. Shut the door___ Game Over!

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