Over the last few weeks, there has been growing concern in regards to Kenley Jansen being the Dodgers’ closer. His velocity has been down, he’s struggled to get guys out, and it looked as if the ninth inning would be an open tryout moving forward.
Jansen showed on Friday night that he should still be the Dodgers’ closer.
He threw a 1-2-3 inning, striking out all three batters he faced. “That was one of the highlights for all of us,” manager Dave Roberts said following the game. “To see the way he commanded the baseball. He attacked. He closed the game out. That was really good to see.”
Jansen looked like the Jansen of old tonight. As Roberts mentioned, he commanded the baseball and attacked hitters the way he did years ago. After falling behind 1-0 to Dansby Swanson in his first at bat, Jansen threw three consecutive strikes including a 92-mph cutter to get him swinging.
The next batter? Austin Riley lasted only three pitches. 92, 93 and 93 mph, including a swinging third strike. To cap things off, Jansen got Johan Camargo to swing and miss on a 94 mph cutter.
You read that right. 94 mph from Kenley!
“He looked great tonight,” Corey Seager said. “He looked like he had some confidence tonight. Throughout the year he was tinkering with stuff and couldn’t find what he was looking for. Tonight, he looked like he was out there throwing, like we’ve seen him do. He was just pounding the zone. He wasn’t scared. He attacked guys. He was really good tonight. That was very comforting to see for him. That’s gotta be a huge relief for him.”
A huge relief indeed. In Game 3, Jansen pitched in the sixth inning, territory he is pretty much unfamiliar with. There was a different Jansen on the mound last night. Whoever that pitcher was, here’s to hoping the Dodgers can see that again this series.
“He’s been working through some delivery things,” Roberts said. “There was a softer landing a few days ago. I wanted him to close this game out. The velocity ticked up. He was staying above the belt and pitching at the top of the zone. He’s one of the guys that miss bats. To see what he did tonight was a big thing for the Dodgers.”