by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s fair to wonder if fantasy owners should be concerned about Kenley Jansen at this point. There have been a lot of issues/questions hovering over the Dodgers, allowing their star closer’s struggles to fly a little bit under-the-radar, but at this point it can’t go unstated anymore.
Jansen has generally been able to get the job done, going 4-for-6 on save opportunities, but he clearly hasn’t been lights out. Let’s take a look at the issues that are looming:
There always appear to be base runners on (he hasn’t had an appearance without allowing a hit or walk since April 10) and his 1.63 WHIP speaks to that. The biggest issue has obviously been his control. Just look at the walk totals over the past few seasons:
- 2015 – 8 BB over 52.1 IP
- 2016 – 11 BB over 68.2 IP
- 2017 – 7 BB over 68.1 IP
- 2018 – 6 BB over 11.2 IP
That alone should tell you that something isn’t right.
Jansen entered play on Wednesday averaging 92.43 mph on his cutter, down from 93.63 in ’17. That’s concerning, though since April 13 he had the number back up to 93.07 and it’s been consistently up:
- 04/13 – 92.58
- 04/17 – 92.69
- 04/21 – 94.14
- 04/22 – 93.17
- 04/25 – 93.43
- 05/01 – 92.80
It’s still down from prior years, but it’s headed in the right direction. Still, the increased velocity hasn’t kept him from being hittable (8 H over 7.0 IP over this span) and that just adds to the concerns.
While home runs have never been an issue (career 0.70 HR/9), he’s already allowed 3 HR. The last did come on April 17 and he’s allowed 1 HR over his past 10 appearances (he allowed home runs in each of his first two games), so maybe the increased velocity has helped? It’s something to monitor, but this isn’t the biggest concern.
We aren’t talking about extremely bad luck, having entered Wednesday with a .300 BABIP and 70.3% strand rate (though it’s common to see relievers carry better marks), considering his 24.2% line drive rate. Something just doesn’t seem right, considering his control and velocity. Is that enough to send us running? Absolutely not, but until he shows otherwise we need to start adjusting our outlook. It’s hard for any reliever to post strong numbers year after year after year, so is it possible that Jansen has “regressed” to ordinary as opposed to elite?
For now that’s the stance you almost have to take, and stashing Josh Fields just in case we learn there’s an underlying issue makes sense. It’s hard to imagine Jansen simply being removed from the role, but would learning of an injury be a shock?
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com
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