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The complete Kenley Jansen: A 2021 #SaveEli postmortem

Or “Confessions of a Booer” or “The Most Bizarre Statline You Will EVER See”

Moments after Kenley Jansen sealed the win against the Pirates. June 9, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

As #JuniorCircuit has a signature GIF, whenever I return to the past of #SaveEli, I shall draw upon the meme I’ve adopted for my own. I feel that it’s important to lean into your eccentricities. Plus, the GIF really does sum up that first trip.


“Confessions of a Booer”

I was not saying “Boo-urns.” But I’ll get into that in a moment.

The formal series of player reviews wrapped with Kenley Jansen, which was good because I had a series of confessions to make.

Fake Confession: I’m actually a Giants fan planted here by Grant Brisbee five years ago…for reasons. Haha – no, that’s a blatant lie and it’s far too convoluted to be slightly possible. I’ve never actually met Grant for that matter. I met Eric virtually when he hired me - that was neat. Anyway, when I was on the tour at Dodger Stadium, we went through the Vin Scully Press Box and I saw Jon Weisman’s name in the Press Box at Dodger Stadium. Moreover, I held up the tour (and was slightly annoyed that) I couldn’t find Eric’s name.

Michael Elizondo

#JusticeForEric.

Justin Turner was the last unofficial Post-Mortem I did because he really tied the 2021 Dodgers together…like a rug. Suppose I should have a White Russian in my hand when I write that. To be fair, Amaretto Sours or Manhattans are my preferred drink of choice, so I’ll leave it to you whether you wish to call me “dude.”

During game threads, on days ending in y. when the Dodgers weren’t performing well, invariably a debate would arise whenever the hometown fans gave Kenley Jansen the business and whether it is EVER acceptable to boo a Dodger —

Person 1: No, it is NEVER acceptable!

Person 2: Shut up, you! Kenley has it coming!

Yeah, that’s the one.

And then it would turn to hypotheticals about said debate and off we go when I’m just trying to enjoy a Game Thread (confession #1: I am a bit of a dreamer and sometimes expect unrealistic things.), before getting bored and wandering off as I tend to do.

Here’s the main confession: while folks were arguing, I’d invariably be sitting in front of my computer, channeling Muttley:

Why?

Well, for me, as stated above, it’s not a hypothetical – confession #2: I booed Kenley Jansen on the literal first day of the first trip on April 26, 2021, at home against the Reds when he gave up the game losing home run on two pitches (I double-checked the telecast months later once I started planning this out – totally hittable pitch) —

Okay, I can see I touched a nerve. It’s like I criticized Dave Roberts or something. Fair enough.

Before everyone loses it (again), in my own defense, it wasn’t a lustful, “how dare you / oh look, it’s Carlos Correa/Trevor Bauer/Mat Latos-existing in my vicinity” level of boo. It was a slightly more passionate and more sarcastic level of boo that I use when a pitcher is throwing over to first too often. “Boo – come on, some of us would like to get something to eat – get on with it!” (Confession #3 – Once seated at a ballgame, I loathe to get up (except for the wave))

I honestly forgot that I booed Jansen until the “great” debate, but here’s the kicker, based on where I was sitting that night, I don’t know if Kenley heard me or would recognize me going forward. Because I saw him a lot. Not on Walker Buehler-please-don’t-get-a-restraining-order-man levels, but it was up there.

It’s not like he rolled his eyes at me – that would be AJ Pollock – but he made a point to ignore pretty much everyone, Dodgers fan or otherwise. Case in point:

But I found most Dodger fans would cheer Kenley. I did as well; if it’s that was unclear, I generally like most Dodger players unless very specific situations arise.

Thick skin for a reliever is important because most folks would give Kenley the business no matter where he went, especially in San Francisco. But most of the time, Kenley just went put his head down and went to work.

Kenley Jansen trots out of the Dodger bullpen. September 15, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

If you listen closely to the below video, you can hear the drunken remnants of the Giants faithful just jeering at Kenley as Mitch White closes the game out. Kenley is just watching the game from the bullpen as Mitch White is putting this one to bed. It was cold that night and I had to endure the jeers of the Giants faithful when I started a chant of Let’s Go, Dodgers.

I’ll give the Giants fans credit - they didn’t go for obvious targets like my weight or my hair, but they critiqued my choice of beverage and argued that my mother wouldn’t be proud of me...for reasons. (Impossible by the way, but we’re here to talk about Kenley.)

Now – why confess I’m a booer. Well, I’m honest. I generally don’t try to rile people up unless I am already riled. And I am certainly not riled writing this Post-Mortem up.

“The most bizarre stat line you will EVER see”

I saw Kenley Jansen pitch in person ten10times in 2021 and the stat line involving Jansen, especially with the overall schedule of games is so incredible, I’m going to lay all of #SaveEli out for you, and then give you a total because I nearly missed it myself.

For completeness’ sake, Jansen didn’t pitch in the NLDS Game 2 blowout.

So let’s recap #SaveEli and you will see what I mean.

  • Date – Opponent – Jansen’s Statline – Team Outcome. Jansen’s outings will be bolded.

(A blowout is a decision by five or more runs.)

  • 4/5 – @Oakland – Did not play, Blowout Win.

#SaveEli begins.

For the record, here is where I was sitting: Field Level, Section 2, Row H, Seat 10 on April 26, 2021 in Dodger Stadium
Michael Elizondo
  • 4/26 – vs. Cincinnati – L – 1 in, 1 H, 2R (1 ER (yes, a Manfred Man(n)), 1 K, 1 HR, Loss
  • 4/27 – vs. Cincinnati – Did not play, Loss
  • 4/29 – @Milwaukee – Did not play, Loss
  • 5/1 – @Milwaukee – 1 in., 1 BB, Loss
  • 5/4 – Game 1 – @Chicago – Did not play, Blowout Loss.
  • 5/4 – Game 2 – @Chicago – 1 in., 1 BB, Loss
  • 5/5 – @Chicago – BS – 1 in., 1R (0 ER (yes, another Manfred Man(n)), 3 BB, Loss
  • 5/7 – @Anaheim – Did not play, Blowout Loss.

I’ll say it, one last time – that first trip was rough, baseball-wise. There are times I wish I could run it back, keep everything the same, but substitute myself for some other commenters (when I want a laugh, I think of Eeyores). Granted, Ted Lasso and my optimism turned these events into a season-long bit. I am grateful for that. Everyone should have a purpose.

#SaveEli: Eli Strikes Back begins.

  • 5/21 – @San Francisco – Did not play, Win.
  • 5/22 – @San Francisco – S – 1 in., 1 K, Win.
Moments after the game where Kenley Jansen closed out the Giants at Oracle Park. May 22, 2021.
Michael Elizondo
  • 6/5 – @Atlanta – Did not play, Loss.
  • 6/6 – @Atlanta – Did not play, Loss.
  • 6/8 – @Pittsburgh – S – 1/3 in., 1 K, Win.
Kenley Jansen closing out the only Pittsburgh batter he faced on June 8, 2021.
Michael Elizondo
Michael Elizondo
  • 6/9 – @Pittsburgh – S – 1 1/3 in., 1 BB, 1 K, Win.
Michael Elizondo
  • 6/10 – @Pittsburgh – Did not play, Win/Rain.
  • 6/19 – @Arizona – Did not play, Blowout Win.
  • 7/5 – @Miami – Did not play, Loss.
  • 7/17 – @Colorado – Did not play, Blowout Win.

[Intermission – Jansen’s meltdowns against the Giants were here, I wasn’t there so…Hi, Kermit.]

Can’t blame me. Just drinking my tea.

#SaveEli: Return to the Journey’s End begins.

  • 7/28 – @San Francisco – Did not play, Blowout Win.
Kenley Jansen, ignoring hecklers and moving about the bullpen because it was cold. In July. Thanks San Francisco.
Michael Elizondo
  • 7/29 – @San Francisco – Did not play, Blowout Loss.
  • 9/4 – @San Francisco – Did not play, Blowout Win.
  • 9/7 – @St. Louis – Did not play, Blowout Win.
Kenley Jansen warming up, but not playing in St. Louis on September 7, 2021.
Michael Elizondo
  • 9/8 – @St. Louis – Did not play, Loss.
  • 9/9 – @St. Louis – 1 in., 1 K, Loss.
  • 9/11 – vs. San Diego – S, 1 in., 1 K, Win
Vista shot moments after Kenley Jansen closed out the game on September 11.
Michael Elizondo
  • 9/13 – vs. Arizona – Did not play, Win.
  • 9/15 – vs. Arizona – S, 1 in., 3 K, Win.
Kenley Jansen closing it out in Los Angeles.
Michael Elizondo
  • 9/17 – @Cincinnati – Did not play, Loss.
  • 9/18 – @Cincinnati – S, 1/3 in., 1 K, Win.
Kenley Jansen warming up in Cincinnati. September 18, 2021.
Michael Elizondo

Now, you have the stats in front of you. Do you see the quirk, the most bizarre statline you’ll ever see? If you don’t, that’s okay. As I said, I nearly missed it too.

It’ll be more obvious when I combine everything:

Kenley Jansen in #2021 SaveEli Games

Games (out of 30) 11
Games (out of 30) 11
Record 0-1
Saves/Blown Saves 5/1
Innings Pitched 10
R/ER 3/1
ERA 0.90
H 1
K 10
BB 7
HR allowed 1
HBP 0

See it now?

From April 26, 2021 to September 18, 2021, that home run was the ONLY HIT that Kenley Jansen allowed in my presence!

What I’m saying is: the booing clearly worked. So, you are very welcome!

Alright…tough room.

Oh, look a baby elephant!

We interrupt your grumbles with a baby elephant. Aww. Back to the Post-Mortem already in progress.

All joking aside, I get it if Kenley Jansen wants to seek out greener pastures. The closer’s life is generally a rough and thankless gig – unless you are Mariano Rivera. For all the good Kenley has done, he’s not Mariano Rivera. Carlos Correa kind of saw to that.

Personally, I’ve noticed that Kenley pitches better when he’s angry. He’s the anti-Hulk – you kind of like him more when he’s angry. As Eric pointed out, Kenley was essentially automatic after the meltdowns against the Giants in July and, while Kenley deployed the wiggle prior to those games, for whatever reason, I seem to remember it more on that final trip.

The Wiggle. September 7, 2021 in St. Louis
Michael Elizondo

Why the fanbase does not call it the wiggle is a failure of imagination. C’est la vie.

As to the level of anger, it’s not rage or annoyance that unlocked Kenley’s effectiveness in 2021. But it is a level of anger akin to righteous indignation that only the very young or internet commenters possess. Not that I would know because I’m not a major league closer.

Kenley’s hips don’t lie. If I were truly gifted at humor, I’d find a way to slip in a Shakira reference here.

If Kenley wants to head to South Beach, all I can say is so long, and thanks for all the fish. If it were up to me, I’d bring him back – but for everyone’s sake, I’ll just try to stay out of earshot.

And if he wanted to teach Brusdar Graterol his cutter before he left, I would not mind in the slightest.