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.
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.
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.