LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen had quite a day on Sunday, unlike any other this year. It began with waking up at 4 a.m., too excited to sleep.
His son, Kaden Isaiah, was born at 9:58 a.m., with labor induced, trying to plan the birth so Jansen wouldn't miss any games.
Jansen didn't get to the stadium until 12:30 p.m., not to far from the 1:10 p.m. first pitch. He threw the last pitch, too, completing his 24th save of the season.
"It felt weird getting here [late]," Jansen said. "It was fun. It was a very exciting day for me. Even without much sleep, I was going by the excitement and feeding off that."
The excitement started in the eighth inning, with two outs and Joey Votto on first. Todd Frazier and his 29 home runs were at the plate, and Jansen entered a tad earlier than normally.
"Right now, in August, I'm definitely ready. Things are starting to get tight, I have to get ready for four-out saves," Jansen said. "I'm aware of it, and I'm ready whenever they need it."
Manager Don Mattingly said he would be judicious when using Jansen to pitch more than one inning, something he hadn't done before Sunday. That Jansen only threw once in the last three days, and 13 pitches at that, coupled with Monday's off day, made Sunday an ideal situation to extend Jansen.
Dodgers 2, Reds 1
Dodgers 2, Reds 1
Mattingly said he wasn't worried about Jansen being distracted or not ready after the birth of a son.
"I went through a few of those, and it's almost kind of energizing," Mattingly said.
The four outs recorded matched the longest save of Jansen's career, done seven other times. Jansen had several outings longer than one inning when he pitched in setup roles.
But Jansen is firmly entrenched as Dodgers closer now, and has emerged as one of the best relievers in baseball.
"You have to start thinking about Kenley [as one of the best in the game]," Mattingly said. "He constantly keeps doing it, and doesn't seem to be going away."
"I've been doing it consistently for a while. I'm not going to worry about stuff that people are going to say," Jansen said. "For me, it's just knowing who I am. But when you talk to a couple of hitters, when they face me, they're going to tell you how tough I am."
Jansen's save on Sunday was the 130th of his career, passing Jeff Shaw for second place on the all-time Dodgers list.
He has struck out 59 of his 122 batters faced, a 48.4-percent strikeout rate that is not only a career high, but second in baseball this year to Marlins reliever Carter Capps, he of the electric slide delivery.
But what sets Jansen apart is that he has walked only four all season. He has 14 strikeouts since his last walk, which came on Aug. 1.
Jansen's 45.1-percent K-BB% is the best ever, per FanGraphs, among pitchers with at least 30 innings in a season..
"I always attack guys, so you just have to trust in your stuff and what you got, and location. Also, with the stuff I have it's going to be tough on hitters if I get ahead early, so that's what I'm focusing on," Jansen said. "To me, always at this point of the season, the closer I get to the playoffs, I'm more dialed in. My focus this year is more dialed in."
The Dodgers have Monday off, when they will travel to the Bay Area. The players are allowed to deviate from the usual business attire while traveling on Monday; they can wear football jerseys since the team will hold its fantasy football draft on Monday night in San Francisco.
The club plays two games against the A's in Oakland, the rematch of a two-game set three weeks ago at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers will send Clayton Kershaw to the mound in the opener, while the Athletics are still technically TBD.