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.