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Dodgers: Andrew Friedman Compares Peak Kenley Jansen to Mariano Rivera

The 2021 season could be the last time that we see Kenley Jansen closing games for the Dodgers. In the final year of his deal. the franchise’s leader in saves could very well be pitching for another team in 2022.

But despite the dips in production from Jansen we’ve seen the last 2-3 years, there is no reason to think he can’t put up one more great season. Kenley did put up quality peripheral numbers for the Dodgers in 2020, including some of the softest contact in the league. There is hope. 

In a recent conversation with am570’s Dave Vassegh, Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman talked about Kenley. Friedman was sure that Jansen was going to be a part of the team’s success in 2021. He also made a comparison that raised a few eyebrows. 

I think part of it with Kenley is that he is the victim of his own past success. He was a Mariano Rivera type of reliever for a few years that were so dominant. We still feel like he’s a really good reliever who helps you win games. 

It’s tough to compare any reliever to Mariano Rivera, given his reign of dominance. Mo racked up 652 career saves and a whole lot of strikeouts and records over a 19-year career. But looking at the Dodgers closer, there are actual comparisons to be made. 

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At his best, Jansen was a monster coming out of the Dodgers bullpen. From 2010 to 2017, he totaled 230 saves and struck out over 14 batters per 9 innings. That dominance came to a peak from 2014 to 2017 when he was almost unhittable, putting up a pristine 1.67 FIP.

He might not be Mariano anymore, but Kenley can certainly help the Dodgers win ballgames. 

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  1. The key is “for a few years.” Several relievers have been like Rivera “for a few years.” But Rivera was that way for nearly two decades. All Dodger fans hope that Jansen has enough left in the tank for another decent season. But – once again – the Dodgers showed their hand last year when Urias was on the bump when it mattered. No matter how well he pitches in the regular season, t’s hard to imagine Jansen in the most high leverage situations this October.

    1. No question Rivera was consistent for a long time and is the GOAT but to dismiss Jansen as just one of several others that have been like him is unfair. From ’13 to ’18, Jansen had as good a run as any 6 years from Rivera and ’17 was special – better than any from Mariano. We’ve all seen his drop off the last couple of years but give him his due.

  2. Jansen is an all time great Dodger, whose greatness ended at least 3 years ago. This walk down memory lane does NOT mean that that Jansen should close games this year. Since these memories are distant we should all wish Jansen a happy FINAL year with the Dodgers. It’s not a crime to grow old. But it is a problem when you pretend otherwise. BTW Rivera was head and shoulders the best closer of all time. And he was pretty old at the end of his career. Some guys, like Rivera, and Randy Johnson have tremendous success late in their careers. But it’s rare. And it’s not the case for Jansen.

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