With the Dodgers season slipping away and then-closer Brandon League blowing save after save, manager Don Mattingly made the change everyone wanted: inserting Kenley Jansen as the closer.
Jansen was the set-up man to League for the beginning part of the season, but after a heart issue ended his season last year, Mattingly and the coaching staff didn’t just give him the closer’s job.
Since he’s become the closer, Jansen has converted 25 of 28 saves and according to Dash Davidson of ESPN.com, he’s using just one pitch to be this successful:
Jansen is able to get away with the risky combination of letting hitters practically know what he is going to throw and where he is going to throw it due to the nature of how hard it is to hit his cutter. The data shows us that Jansen’s cutter is downright filthy: Less than a quarter of the time batters swing at the pitch does it actually end up in play — far less than for his accomplished cutter-throwing peers.
Once Jansen was inserted into the closer’s role, the rest of the Dodgers bullpen was able to settle into their roles as Ronald Belisario became the set-up man and so forth.
The addition of Brian Wilson and emergence of Paco Rodriguez has given the Dodgers one of the best and most reliable bullpens in baseball with a 3.54 overall ERA. With a lights out cutter, Jansen has admitted to emulating the cutter of future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera and hopefully for the Dodgers, he continues to be one of the best closer’s in all of baseball.
In case you missed it, be sure to find out more about Matt Kemp’s rehab.