A little less than two years ago, it seemed all Kenley Jansen would be remembered as was the light-hitting catcher with the rocket arm who gunned down runners in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. However, Jansen wasn't hitting enough to sustain a professional baseball career, so the Dodgers decided in July 2009 to put that rocket arm to good use. Jansen was converted to pitcher, then made the majors in just one year, making his major league debut last July 23.
From the moment he first stepped foot on the Dodgers Stadium mound, Jansen turned heads. The imposing frame (he is listed at 6'5", 257 pounds), and the electric fastball are eye-catching. He blew away the Mets in two weekend outings, striking out four of the six batters he faced, even earning a save in his second major league game. Jansen is one of eight Los Angeles Dodgers to record a save in one of his first two major league games.
Jansen has thrown all of 83 2/3 professional innings, and in those innings he has 49 walks, but an astonishing 138 strikeouts. It's amazing that he has only been pitching for roughly a year and a half. He was mostly a fastball pitcher, throwing it 86.9% of the time per FanGraphs. Among the 252 major league relievers who threw 20 innings or more last season, Jansen threw his fastball the third-most often, behind only Ronald Belisario (90.4%) and Matt Thornton (90.1%).
Last spring, Jansen was in the first group of players cut in spring training, as he was one of four players reassigned to minor league camp in March 14. This season, that call hasn't come yet, and it probably won't. Jansen is the type of pitcher who could probably benefit from a little more development time in the minors (not a long time, maybe a few months), but has the talent to excel at the major league level right now, and the results show it.
Jansen's future will be as Dodger closer, perhaps as early as next season.
Jansen chose number 74 because that is his house address number in Curacao.
Jansen will make a major league salary of $416,000 this season. He has 73 days of major league service time, and is technically still a rookie, since he didn't reach the minimum requirement of either 50 innings or 45 days of service time during the 25-man roster period though August 31 last year (Jansen accumulated 40 days of service time during this period).
|2009 (Hi A)
|2010 (Hi A)
|2011 Projections - Age 23 Season|
I think Jansen will pitch in late-inning relief for the club all season, and he will pitch well. I will guess a 3.16 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings.
What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Jansen's ERA, number of innings pitched for the Dodgers, plus anything else you would like to predict.