As many people know by now, Kenley Jansen hasn’t exactly looked like Kenley Jansen to begin 2018. Initially, the concern was the velocity of his cutter. Recently though, while definitely not yet completely normal, the velocity is back in the range where he can be effective.
That’s still a tick below his average in 2017, but it’s not something that would cause him to get shelled in and of itself. However, wavering command would definitely be a factor, and his current 9.7% walk rate his highest since 2011. More than just throwing strikes, Kenley seems to be struggling to throw quality strikes as well, which he believes comes from an inconsistent landing spot for his front foot.
But he believed he identified another flaw. His front foot is not landing in a consistent location, which causes his command to falter.
“Once the landing spot is inconsistent, that arm slot is going to be inconsistent,” Jansen said. “That very first pitch to Eric Hosmer, he didn’t have a shot. I saw it too. I’m like, ‘Oh, shoot, I found a home.’ And then the next pitch, I threw like a misfired cutter down the middle. It deserved to get hit.”
Because I am shameless, I will point out that a bit over two weeks ago, I identified this issue with Kenley’s mechanics in an article I wrote for The Athletic (which you should subscribe to using this link and this link only).
Upon going over it frame-by-frame, however, I noticed that yesterday his landing foot was simply all over the place. Since I hadn’t noticed it before, I thought maybe he always did something like that, but when I compared it to an outing from last year at the same stadium using the same camera angle, he was definitely much more consistent then.
Obviously, you could expect that difference in lower-half mechanics to have an adverse impact on Kenley’s command, and it certainly showed last night.
There are visual aids included in the article that make it quite obvious that Kenley’s lower-half mechanics are borked.
So what does this mean? Um, not much, honestly. But it seems I actually got this right, and it’s rare to get it confirmed, so I had to write something. I suppose mainly the good news is that Kenley thinks he now has the solution to his problems, which hopefully will lead to the bad news stopping.