Dodgers News: Kenley Jansen ‘Finally’ Has Feel For Cutter

Since a dominant 2017 season that led to the Los Angeles Dodgers crafting a modified plan for Kenley Jansen in Spring Training last year, the once-unflappable closer has struggled to find any sort of consistency.

Jansen attributed last season’s struggles to his abbreviated spring and vowed to pitch more regularly this year. He carried that forward but still has yet to be his usual self. It’s resulted in the Dodgers adjusting how they deploy Jansen.

No longer is he being held back for potential save opportunities, but rather a commitment has been made to have Jansen pitch at least once per series. The hope was more regular appearances would lend to improved results.

Jansen has shown flashes of his old self and that was no more apparent than on the Dodgers’ just-completed road trip. According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, that was a byproduct of Jansen gaining full control of patented pitch:

“My cutter is a feel pitch, and when I feel it click, you’ve got to hold on to it,” Jansen said. “I’ve been searching the whole year. I finally figured it out. You see the life, the rise and the cut again. It’s made me become a better pitcher, because I’ve used secondary pitches and I’ve got more weapons.”

Jansen said he felt his mechanics sync up while playing long toss a day before his Thursday appearance in Baltimore.

“I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just muscle memory when I’m doing things well, and for some reason it just clicked,” he said.

Both of Jansen’s last two appearances came in a series finale, with one being a save. He collected a strikeout and retired the Baltimore Orioles in order on 18 pitches to wrap up the Dodgers’ 4-2 win at Camden Yards.

Jansen’s cutter and velocity were both improved when compared to other showings this season, and he backed that up with a stellar showing against the New York Mets. Jansen had begun warming up in the top of the eighth inning when the Dodgers were facing a 2-1 deficit.

He took the mound in the bottom of the eighth and set the Mets down in order on just 10 pitches. Jansen again pitched with high velocity and a cutter and slider that each had bite.

His appearance joined in that of Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu also pitching to lofty expectations that have been set.