Kenley Jansen pitched one perfect inning for the Los Angeles Dodgers tonight to close out the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. It was Jansen’s 23rd save of the year and the 129th of his career, tying him with Jeff Shaw for second place on the Dodgers’ all-time list, just 32 saves behind Eric Gagne.
Jansen, the 6’5″, 265-pounder from Willemstad, Curacao, sandwiched a Jay Bruce groundout between strikeouts of Todd Frazier and Marlon Byrd, giving him 57 strikeouts in 31.1 innings pitched this season. Perhaps more impressively, Jansen has walked only four hitters all season, for a sparkling 14.25 K/BB ratio.
Jansen, who struck out 27 batters before his first walk this season, has gradually improved his control throughout his career. His BB/9 rate has gone from 5.0 in 2010 to 1.2 this year. His K/9 rate has consistently between 13 and 14, with blips of 16.1 in 2011 and 16.4 this season.
Jansen has faced 118 batters and struck out 48.3 percent of them. That is even better than prototypical flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, who has struck out 42.5 percent of batters he has faced. Factor in walk rates — Chapman’s 4.6 K/9 is nearly four times Jansen’s — and you can start to understand Jansen’s dominance.
Jansen’s 14.25 K/BB rate would be good for fourth all-time among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched. Only Dennis Eckersley (18.33 in 1989 and 18.25 in 1990 for the Oakland A’s) and Koji Uehara (14.33 for the Boston Red Sox in 2012) have put up better numbers. A’s pitcher Evan Scribner has the same exact 57/4 K/BB as Jansen this season, albeit with a much lower K/9 and a significantly higher ERA.
In a year that has seen the Dodgers’ bullpen struggle mightily at times, Jansen’s 2.59 ERA and 23 saves in 24 opportunities have given welcome stability. Factor in his historic K/BB numbers, and Kenley Geronimo Jansen has Dodger fans feeling the California Love.