Has Kenley Jansen Been the Best Dodger Reliever in 2021?

(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

During this 2021 season, it has been quite the roller coaster for the Dodgers, and yet we are only still in the month of May. A fast start followed by a domino effect of injuries and a rough losing stretch in which the Dodgers lost 15 out of 20 games has been the storyline so far.

Throughout the offseason, the Dodgers lost several bullpen arms that were key to their 2020 championship such as Pedro Baez, Jake McGee, Dylan Floro, and Alex Wood.

So far this season, the bullpen has had a fair amount of leads lost and blown saves. During the most recent road trip when the Dodgers went 2-8, there were several games in which they were one out away from winning.

The injury bug has hit the Dodgers hard, several bullpen arms have missed significant time such as Brusdar Graterol, Joe Kelly, and Corey Knebel, among a few others.

But one thing that may be a shocker to some fans is to say Kenley Jansen has been the best reliever in the Dodger bullpen this year. Many fans are quick to alienate the stretch of disappointing postseasons with Jansen.

So far this year, Jansen has posted a 1.53 ERA in 17 ⅔ innings pitched along with 19 strikeouts. It is still a young season, but his numbers are there. He has also shown signs of getting his velocity back and his WHIP also stands at 1.13, not the exactly his best WHIP, but far better than where he finished in 2020.

Jansen’s ERA is the lowest of any Dodger reliever, with the next closest being left-hander Victor Gonzalez posting a 1.98 ERA.

Out of ten save opportunities, Jansen has converted eight of those, most recently a four-out save last night against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s also only given up three runs this season and one home run, although his walks are up much higher than normal.

Over the last seven games, Jansen has allowed just two hits and no runs, but he has allowed seven walks, which is essentially a walk per inning he has pitched, and with him being one of the easier pitchers to steal bases on, it can cause some high stakes at-bats in the ninth inning.

Opponents are hitting.096 off of Jansen, which is among the lowest of National League relievers. Just last night, Jansen registered his 320th save to tie Dennis Eckersley for third place in the all-time saves list with one team.

So, to answer the question, has Jansen been the best Dodger reliever in 2021? I’d say so. He has an ERA below two and his opponent’s batting average is one of the lowest.

If the opportunity presents itself, we will see if Jansen gets his 321st save tonight, or if he will be afforded a day of rest as the Dodgers play the Diamondbacks in the second game of a four-game series.

Dodger left-hander Julio Urias, who’s 5-1 with a 3.26 ERA, will get the start, while the Diamondbacks have not announced a starter for tonight.

The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m Pacific.

5 thoughts on “Has Kenley Jansen Been the Best Dodger Reliever in 2021?

  1. Jansen has been good. His control is inconsistent in some appearances and the walks have caused problems. He has especially had issues attempting to pitch back-to-back games.
    That the Dodgers are 6-4 in their last 10 games missing Bellinger, McKinstry, Graterol, Price, Gonsolin, May, Knebel, Seager, and Taylor intermittently is amazing. The starting pitching has been as good or better than advertised at the start of the year. The great news is Bellinger and McKinstry are beginning minor league play and Price was reinstated on the roster. Kelly is back and has good velocity and late movement.

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    1. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. He doesn’t seem to have much idea where the ball is going. Certainly not to where the catcher would like it to go most of the time. But his velocity is up and he is getting the job done lately.

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  2. While Jansen has walked more than usual in 2021, 3 of the walks were intentional walks ordered by the bench. To put that in perspective he only had 8 international walks over his first 11 seasons.

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  3. He has been better since he started pitching mad. Trout out for 6-8 weeks with a calf strain. Pillar out with multiple face fractures after being hit in the face, Maybin sold to the Mets. Law DFA’d by the Twins….injuries this season are out of control. Two front line players out because of being hit and sustaining broken bones, Pillar and Seager.

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