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Dodgers: Mark Prior Says Kenley Jansen Needs More Than the Cutter

One trick might be enough for this pony.

Kenley Jansen is all the rage these days — especially after consecutive impressive outings (and a slow off-day). While the hope is that we can believe our eyes when it comes to the resurgent velocity and movement on the cutter, Dodgers bullpen coach Mark Prior shares a more realistic viewpoint on the greater subject.

They start getting older, their stuff starts to regress and it’s the adapting period. It gets a little screwy. He’s going through that right now, where maybe the cutter’s not as good as it was in 2017. I think he understands that.

Is it still good? Yes. Is it to the point where he can throw it 95 percent of the time, even when they know it’s coming and they cheat to it? I don’t think so. — Via Pedro Moura, The Athletic

Just about everyone and their grandma knows you can likely sit cutter when it comes to Kenley Jansen, so Prior is not wrong with the latter statement. Moreover, Jansen will turn 32 in less than two weeks. Undoubtedly his stuff would have regressed with age. This leaves Prior 2-2.

Clayton Kershaw — 6 months Kenley’s junior — has learned to adapt to reduced velocity with age. Even if its relying on shaping a slider more than any other pitch, Kershaw has played the game of adjustments with father time.

On the other hand, Jansen has fought with the Dodgers about his “number one pitch” this season. He understands that his cutter is still second to none in his repertoire, but the hard-headed reliance on only that pitch has caused more than a scene or two with his catchers and his manager.

Dave Roberts on those situations.

I think he can be stubborn at times. He can be convicted at times. It’s been a little – we’ve got to work things out as far as what we want to do to get Kenley and the catchers on the same page.

That was in May.

Now, Kenley is riding high over his last two outings, and in the month of September. So far in the final month of the regular season, the big man has an ERA of 1.80 in 5 appearances. His movement appears to have returned, the velocity on his cutter has absolutely trended upward, and he’s mixing in different pitches.

Impressive no doubt, but is it an outlier?

11 games remain in the regular season for Los Angeles.

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

8 Comments

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  1. Seems like a Blown Save waiting to happen these days. Hopefully he continues like the last 5 games and not like August where he blew 3 clear cut wins and saves. Tired of the Prima Donna attitude where he has to be the closer.

  2. Finally, someone else is tired of having to listen to the blabbering of the ESPN announcers talk about the obvious or the nothing. Obviously the movement on the cutter is important, he just needs to know when to use it.

  3. I’m not buying into any Jansen “resurgence” at this point. He’s been awful all year and a couple good outings against mediocre to poor teams is similar to the blind squirrel finding an acorn every once in a while. I just don’t see him being the closer we’ll need him to be against literally any of the trams that are playoff bound.

  4. Just dont put him out there on back to back nights and he will be fine. the pen hasnt been the issue for LA in the post season. Its been the management of the pen that has cost the dodgers 2 rings so far.

  5. I certainly hope KJ is on the rebound!!!! But, right now, I am in my “wait and see” mode!!.
    When going up against the Astros and Yanks, you have to be sharp, focused, and you have to have different pitches so that the opposition cannot sit and wait for a particular pitch. I do hope KJ is up to that!!! Go Blue!!

  6. Look at the bright side, we could have had the pedo,Filipe Vasquez as a closer and also lost Lux to that trade.,

  7. Mr. Kenley “IN DENIAL” Jansen is fooling himself into believing his pitches are back in full swing, They should let him pitch every day ,so he has a legitimate excuse as to why he has not been effective this year , instead of saying “NOW ” He has found himself He …CLICKED … in his last two outings .The Dodgers have clinched home field for the playoffs , so let Kenley pitch as a starter, middle relief , closer then when the playoffs are here he will be to tired to pitch . Wish him well…

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