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Kenley Jansen joins the 1,000-strikeout club

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Dodgers closer is 12th pitcher in MLB history with 1,000 strikeouts in relief

Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen struck out Padres catcher Austin Nola in the ninth inning on Wednesday night at Petco Park in San Diego, becoming the 12th pitcher in major league history with 1,000 strikeouts in relief.

Jansen this season has 64 strikeouts and a 2.75 ERA in 52⅓ innings. His 29.2-percent strikeout rate is the second-lowest of his career, but that’s still good enough to rank in the top third of qualified major league relievers.

Jansen is the second relief pitcher to join the 1,000-strikeout club this season. Craig Kimbrel, now with the White Sox, reached the milestone on August 16. Jansen and Kimbrel are the only pitchers in major league history to reach 1,000 strikeouts in fewer than 700 innings pitched, per Stats Perform.

That only a dozen pitchers have amassed 1,000 strikeouts in relief — a group that includes Hall of Famers Hoyt Wilhelm, Goose Gossage, Lee Smith, Rollie Fingers, Mariano Rivera, and Trevor Hoffman — is impressive enough. But Jansen holds even more exclusive company.

He’s one of only four players with 1,000 relief strikeouts in one league, along with Billy Wagner, Rivera, and Hoffman.

Relief pitchers with 1,000 strikeouts

Pitcher Relief strikeouts NL relief Ks AL relief Ks
Pitcher Relief strikeouts NL relief Ks AL relief Ks
Hoyt Wilhelm 1,363 521 842
Goose Gossage 1,340 448 892
Lee Smith 1,225 914 311
Billy Wagner 1,196 1,174 22
Rollie Fingers 1,183 319 864
Jesse Orosco 1,169 608 561
Lindy McDaniel 1,165 745 420
Francisco Rodriguez 1,142 452 690
Mariano Rivera 1,135 0 1,135
Trevor Hoffman 1,133 1,133 0
Craig Kimbrel 1,004 685 319
Kenley Jansen 1,000 1,000 0
Counting only strikeouts in relief Source: Baseball Reference

Every single one of Jansen’s 1,000 strikeouts have been with the Dodgers, the third-highest total in relief for one team. Only Rivera (1,135 relief strikeouts with the Yankees) and Hoffman (1,029 with the Padres) have more.

“It adds to his collection. That’s a great milestone,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It just shows us he stood the test of time. To have 1,000 strikeouts on the same team. It’s a short list of guys who have done that, and both are in the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to Kenley. I’m very lucky to be a part of it.”

Jansen is the best relief pitcher in Dodgers history, the franchise’s all-time leader in saves (340, which ranks 15th all-time/tied for 14th all-time with Rollie Fingers if 341), relief strikeouts, and games pitched (684). He’s fifth in relief innings (688⅓).

Jansen has six of the top 20 relief strikeout seasons in club history, in six of the seven-lowest innings totals among that group.

He’s only the 19th pitcher overall to strike out 1,000 batters, in any role, in Dodgers history.

Not bad for a former catcher.