For the second straight season, the Los Angeles Dodgers started out with Brandon League as closer and for the second-straight year, Kenley Jansen took over the closing role because League just couldn’t cut it. Regardless of whether Kenley was used in the eighth or ninth inning, he was lights out and the best option out of the bullpen in both situations.
Opposing batters were able to get to him more often than in past years, but even with that said, they only managed a .177 batting average against Jansen. A factor in the higher batting average would be the fact that Kenley pitched in the most innings of his career this season so that isn’t a reason to think he wasn’t as good as he really was.
Jansen is quite the strikeout machine. He recorded 111 strikeouts with a 13.03 K/9 average and his K/BB ratio was an astounding 6.17. The increase of innings pitched didn’t affect his ERA at all. By season’s end, he managed an outstanding 1.88 ERA and his WHIP was also really good at 0.86. A number that really shows how valuable he was and is to the Dodgers would be his 2.6 WAR. That means having him as a closer brings Los Angeles almost three more wins than just about any other closer they could have instead.
When he was pitching eighth inning duties, he managed to hold 16 games, which put him third on the team in that category. Once he took over the closing role, he saved 28 games and only blew four.
Kenley was Mr. Utility out of the bullpen for the Dodgers this past season and he put up great stats regardless of what inning they had him pitching in. Expect to see Jansen start the 2014 season out as the closer for Los Angeles. With that being the case, I fully expect him to be a leading candidate to lead the league in saves and he very well could be the winner of the Rolaids Relief Man award in 2014.