On Wednesday night in Arizona, closer Kenley Jansen saved his 100th career game for the Los Angeles Dodgers to make him the youngest to reach the milestone in franchise history.
Jansen currently ranks sixth in Dodger history in saves and would need just 61 more to be the all-time leader. The right-hander took over the full-time position last season and has kept it throughout the 2014 season.
According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Jansen was surprised by the milestone:
I never thought I’d do that,” said the 26-year-old Jansen, one shy of Ron Perranoski for fifth on the franchise all-time list and only 61 behind Cy Young Award winner Eric Gagne’s club record. “It’s crazy. It all happened so fast.”
This season Jansen has 38 saves with a 2.82 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 54.1 innings. He joins J.P. Howell as the most consistent arms out of the bullpen this year. However, Jansen wasn’t always destined to be an elite closer. He began his career as a catcher in the Dodger farm system and didn’t convert to pitching until 2009. Jansen made his Major League debut a year later.
The 26-year-old wasn’t sure of the change, but embraced it:
I pitched a little bit in Little League in Curacao, but I thought pitching was boring and I never wanted to do it. When I made the transition, I was fighting it a little bit, because I still thought I would hit. Then I remember a 10-pitch inning in [Class A Advanced] with two strikeouts, and I said to myself, ‘OK, I can do this.'”
Thanks to Jansen’s success in the transition, the Dodgers have another power arm that went from position player to pitcher in Pedro Baez. The right-hander was originally a third baseman, but was moved to pitcher and reached the big leagues this season.
With the success of those two, the Dodgers may be willing to keep recommending position changes as necessary with examples pitching in Los Angeles.
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