Reviewing 2012: The future is now for Kenley Jansen
After establishing himself as one of the top right-handed relievers in baseball over the past couple of seasons, Kenley Jansen was expected to have a big role out of the bullpen.
Often seen as the closer-of-the-future, that future was quickly realized when Jansen took over closing duties for the team after former closer Javy Guerra struggled to start the year.
Jansen was solid as the team’s closer converting 25 of 31 save opportunities.
The Curacao native further cemented his reputation as one of the premier strikeout relievers in the game. Only the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel and the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman had a higher K/9 rate than Jansen.
Jansen was cruising after the all-star break, but would be sidelined for a month with an irregular heartbeat that caused him to miss time in 2011 as well.
Jansen finished the season strong giving up only one earned run in 8.1 innings of work after returning.
The Numbers: 5-3, 2.35 ERA, 99:22 K/BB, 65 innings pitched, 0.85 WHIP, 25 saves, 65 games
Jansen set career-highs across the board, Kenley had career-bests in wins, saves, appearances, innings pitched, strikeouts, and WHIP.
This was also Jansen’s first season in the closer role and he did not disappoint.
Although Jansen’s K/9 were down from 2011’s astronomical 16.1 K/9 to 13.7 this year, that was still good for third in the National League. Jansen led all Dodgers relievers in strikeouts as well. Only Ronald Belisario had more appearances and innings pitched among Dodger relievers.
April 11 vs. Pirates – Kenley struck out the side in the 8th inning to help preserve a 4-1 Dodgers win at PNC Park. The Dodgers had won 5 of 6 games to start the season.
April 29 vs. Nationals – Kenley recorded his second save of the year, striking out the side for the fourth time in the young season. Jansen had a streak of nine consecutive scoreless appearances at this point.
June 15 vs. White Sox – After a rough series against the Angels in inter-league play, Jansen bounced back to record a 1-2-3 inning against the visiting Chicago White Sox and saved a 7-6 win for the Dodgers that saw them erase a 5-1 deficit.
Aug. 18 vs. Braves – Jansen recorded his only two-inning save of the season, entering the 8th inning with the bases loaded. Jansen would record two more strikeouts in the 9th and save a 6-2 Dodgers victory.
Sept. 23 vs. Reds – After missing nearly a month with an irregular heartbeat, Jansen showed he was back, striking out the side in the seventh inning of a 5-3 Dodgers win.
Jansen made $491,000 this season. Jansen is not even eligible for salary arbitration, so he will continue to be one of the most affordable Dodgers on the roster.
Jansen underwent successful surgery to repair his irregular heartbeat earlier this week and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Although it may not be as the closer, Jansen should continue to be a key member of the Dodgers bullpen.
Jansen now has full-time closer experience under his belt and Don Mattingly has shown no hesitation handing Jansen the ball in late-inning situations.
Jansen is still only 25 years old and should continue his growth as a pitcher.