Kenley Jansen struck out the side in Friday’s win over the Phillies, continuing his great start to 2017.
The Dodgers closer allowed two runs in a non-save situation at Coors Field on April 10 but has otherwise seen his ledger unblemished this season. He sports a 1.93 ERA in 9⅓ innings, with 16 strikeouts.
But most importantly, Jansen still has no walks.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw also began his 2017 with 16 strikeouts before his first walk, not issuing a free pass until his third start. On the season, Kershaw has 39 strikeouts and just three walks.
Jansen has been on a rampage of late, with at least two strikeouts in each of his last five straight appearances, striking out 13 of his last 21 batters faced. He has struck out 44.4% of his total batters faced this season, including a whopping 12 of 20 (60%) right-handed batters.
But back to the no walks for a moment.
Jansen is one of four pitchers in the majors who entered Saturday with at least 16 strikeouts and no walks this season — Addison Reed also has 16 strikeouts, starter J.A. Happ has 20, and starter Noah Syndergaard has a whopping 30.
The continuing refinement by Jansen has been remarkable, as was his conversion from behind the plate to the mound eight years ago. His walk rate in his rookie season of 2010 — just one year after converting to pitching -- was 13.8%.
Even as recently as 2014, it was 7.1%. But in 2015-16 combined, Jansen trimmed that down to 4.2%, and of course this year is zero.
Jansen has one four-pitch walk since the start of 2014.
In 2015, Jansen had no walks in each of his first 16 appearances, and struck out 27 before issuing his first free pass. Here are Jansen’s strikeouts at the time of his first walk of the season in his career:
- 2010: 6
- 2011: 0
- 2012: 8
- 2013: 0
- 2014: 1
- 2015: 27
- 2016: 9
- 2017: 16
The Dodgers record for strikeouts in a single month without a walk — at least dating back to 1913 -- is 24, by Eric Gagne in 2003, so barring some heavy usage this weekend Jansen won’t be breaking that.
Jansen himself struck out 22 without a walk in 2013. The only other Dodger ahead of Jansen’s current month is starter Luke Prokopec, with 17 strikeouts and no walks in April 2001.
Time: 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, MLB Network