- Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Kenley Jansen had an off year in 2014, and still managed to strike out 101 batters in 65.1 innings. Consistency in Jansen’s biggest problem right now. He managed 44 saves in 2014, but he also blew five opportunities. He is among the best in the league in strikeout percentage, walk percentage, and strike out to walk ratio, but giving up five home runs (just one less than my top three combined) truly hurt him in 2014. Home runs have been an ongoing problem for Jansen that, when solved, will elevate his game into my top three.
Jansen became the Dodgers closer during the 2012 season and has the role firmly locked up. If not for health issues (heart) he would have been among the league leaders in saves each of the past three years. It has become famous by now, the reason Jansen has had such success is due to his cutter. Much like Mariano Rivera did for 19 years, Kenley Jansen makes his money when he cuts his fastball. Jansen collects strikeouts like he’s getting paid for it (he is). He has incurred a rate of 14.02 strike outs per nine innings over his career. That is good enough for third-best all-time among pitchers with a minimum of 100 innings pitched.
Jansen will miss time again this year, starting the season on the DL after having foot surgery. He is expected to miss the first month of the regular season. When Jansen is healthy and at his best, it could be argued that he is the best closer in the league. Consistency in 2015 could help move that argument forward.