Kenley Jansen is Lights Out in 2023 So Far

Mandatory Credit: Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

The Red Sox bullpen has been nothing short of unstable in recent years. In 2022, the Red Sox were tied for the 6th most blown saves with 28 blown saves out of 65 save opportunities. However, Kenley Jansen is one of the newest additions to this bullpen and has already made a fantastic first impression.

In his seven appearances, Kenley Jansen has a 0.00 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP, has posted a 1.08 FIP and has 11 strikeouts over seven innings pitched. Jansen has also avoided walks, allowing only two walks over his seven appearances.

The Red Sox haven’t had an effective closer since Craig Kimbrel in 2018. There have been several candidates in the closer role since Kimbrel departed after the 2018 season. These candidates have consisted of Matt Barnes along with Garrett Whitlock. But while effective at times, there hasn’t been a solid structure in the bullpen as these candidates were often shuffled in different roles. Or in Garrett Whitlock’s case, moved to the rotation.

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Kenley Jasen is also only one save away from moving up in the all-time saves leaderboard. As of today, both Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen are tied for seventh in all-time saves leaders with 396 saves.

Kenley Jansen is Silencing the Pitch Clock Concerns

One of the main concerns going into the season for Kenley Jansen was the adjustment to the pitch clock. Jansen had one of the longest time in between pitches in 2022, averaging 18.1 seconds between pitches with the bases empty. With runners on, he was averaging 23.3 seconds. The concern was real going into 2023 for a veteran closer who used the time between pitches to his advantage for the majority of his career. However, Jansen is thriving under the new pitch clock rules.

While not being able to hold as long as he was, Jansen’s new pace of play has been lethal against batters. In conjunction with his jump in velocity, he is virtually unhittable in 2023 so far.

Jansen’s velocity on his signature cutter has dropped in recent years, with the spin rate also seeing a decline. But in 2023, Jansen is back up casually hitting 95mph on his cutter along with a jump with over 100 RPM on his spin rate from last year. This jump in velocity and spin rate has resulted in a very promising sign for the rest of the year.

It’s still early, but there are reasons to believe Kenley Jansen can continue his dominance throughout the season. He is working beyond efficiently and is not being overworked in multiple inning scenarios. Which is a problem we have seen much too often in Boston. As for now, the veteran righty is continuing to dominate, and the ninth inning in Boston feels comfortable for the first time in a long time.

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