Kenley Jansen Is Just The Best

Kenley Jansen hasn’t pitched in a while, and that’s disappointing. He’s thrown only 16 pitches since the start of last week, on June 18 in Texas, and that’s it. That’s because the Dodgers have either been losing or blowing out the Giants, and you know how Don Mattingly feels about using his closer in non-save situations.

I’m not here today to whine about the manager, though. I really, truly am disappointed that we aren’t seeing Jansen more simply because he’s so, so good, to the point that I’m not sure we really recognize that enough. Jansen has always been elite, but what he’s doing so far this season is really something else. So, I wrote about it at MLB.com

Jansen made his debut on May 15, and so far he’s faced 41 hitters. Twenty-two of them have struck out, good for a gaudy 53.7 strikeout percentage. Exactly zero have drawn a walk. Only four have managed to get a hit. It’s about as close to perfect as a human being can reasonably be in this sport.

…and I went on to talk about his absurd spin rate (it’s great!) and perceived velocity (also great!) and other fun things, and obviously I’m trying to get you to click through and read the whole thing. This thread, really, is mainly to point out that in between the every-eight-weeks-or-so freakouts because he actually did something imperfect, it’s more than worth taking a minute to point out just how phenomenal Jansen is. Is and has been, really, because his rankings on the all-time Dodger pitching leaderboard (min. 250 innings) are pretty impressive:

  • ERA: 2nd (2.19)
  • FIP: 1st (1.94)
  • K%: 1st (39.8%)

Now I know just how unfair it is to even show those numbers — different eras, one-inning relievers, etc. No one’s saying he’s better than Clayton Kershaw or Sandy Koufax or anything like that. But it’s already not unreasonable to think that he’s the best reliever the Dodgers have ever had, and he’s still not even 28 until September. What his long-term future is with the Dodgers remains uncertain, since he’s a free agent after 2016, which already seems crazy because it seems like just yesterday that he was the converted catcher who’d skyrocketed to the majors. Right now, he’s just an incredibly elite reliever who never seems to get that credit. It’s not easy to be the closer, I guess. But it’s probably a lot harder to try to hit that cutter.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.