Kenley Jansen

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Kenley Jansen
20170718 Dodgers-WhiteSox Kenley Jansen with the ball.jpg
Jansen with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017
Los Angeles Dodgers – No. 74
Relief pitcher
Born: (1987-09-30) September 30, 1987 (age 31)
Willemstad, Curaçao
Bats: Switch Throws: Right
MLB debut
July 24, 2010, for the Los Angeles Dodgers
MLB statistics
(through 2018 season)
Win–loss record 25–18
Earned run average 2.20
Strikeouts 823
Saves 268
Career highlights and awards

Kenley Geronimo Jansen (born September 30, 1987) is a Curaçaoan professional baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has played for the Dodgers since his MLB debut in 2010. He appeared in the MLB All-Star Game in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Early life[edit]

Jansen was born in Willemstad, Curaçao,[1] the youngest of three sons of Isidor Jansen and Bernadette Jansen.[2] His father worked in construction until suffering a stroke when Kenley was 12; his mother is a travel agent.[2] Jansen began playing baseball at the age of six, alongside his brothers. He began as an outfielder before moving to shortstop. Jansen then met Andrelton Simmons, and was shifted to third base. Jansen later played first base and catcher.[3]

Baseball career[edit]

Minor leagues[edit]

Jansen was signed as an undrafted free agent catcher by the Dodgers organization on November 17, 2004,[4] and was assigned to the Rookie Class Gulf Coast Dodgers, where he played in 37 games and hit .304[1] before being promoted to the Ogden Raptors of the Pioneer League on August 26.[5] He had two hits in 11 at-bats in three games for Ogden.[1] He was back with the Gulf Coast team the following season, hitting .245 in 35 games.[1] After the season he played for the North Shore Honu in the Hawaii Winter Baseball League, where he hit .121 in nine games.[5]

Jansen batting for the Great Lakes Loons in 2008

Jansen split 2007 between the Raptors and the Class-A Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League, hitting .207 in 73 games.[1] After the season, he again played in Hawaii Winter Baseball, this time for the West Oahu CaneFires[6] In 2008 with the Loons, he hit .227 and 9 home runs in 79 games.[1] He was selected to the mid-season Midwest League All-Star game.[7]

In 2009, he was the starting catcher for the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic. In the Netherlands' upset of the favored Dominican Republic team, Jansen threw out Willy Taveras on an attempted steal of third base in the ninth inning, a key play in the game.[8] He began 2009 with the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, but hit just .202 in 38 games.[1] Despite that, he appeared in eight games for the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes, but had just five hits in 27 at-bats.[1]

The Dodgers convinced Jansen that he had no future at catcher because of his poor offensive numbers and that he should switch to pitching. Under the tutelage of former major leaguer Charlie Hough, he made the conversion in the second half of the 2009 season at Inland Empire.[9] He pitched 11 ​23 innings for the 66ers, allowing six earned runs.[1] He continued the conversion in the Arizona Fall League for the Peoria Javelinas.[1]

Jansen was added to the Dodgers 40-man roster on November 19, 2009.[10] He started with Inland Empire again and allowed only five runs in 18 innings while striking out 28 batters.[1] On May 15, 2010, he was promoted to the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, where he was selected to the mid-season Southern League all-star game.[11] He pitched 27 innings in 22 games for the Lookouts, with a 1.67 ERA.[1]

Los Angeles Dodgers[edit]


On July 23, 2010, Jansen was promoted to the Dodgers.[12] He made his Major League debut in relief on July 24 against the New York Mets, where he pitched a scoreless inning, retiring all three batters he faced and striking out two.[13] The very next day on July 25, he recorded his first Major League save, when he pitched a 1-2-3 inning against the Mets.[14]

On August 26, 2010, Jansen walked and scored a run in his first Major League plate appearance at Miller Park in Milwaukee against Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers[15] and collected his first major league hit on August 31, 2010, at Dodger Stadium. The hit was a single up the middle against Kyle Kendrick of the Philadelphia Phillies.[16] Jansen recorded his first win against the Houston Astros on September 11 in Minute Maid Park.[17] He appeared in 25 games with the Dodgers in 2010, working 27 innings with a 1–0 record and a 0.67 ERA. He also saved four games in 2010.[4]


In 2011 Jansen became a key member of the Dodgers bullpen. He was 2–1 with a 2.85 ERA in ​53 23 innings and saved 5 games.[4] He also struck out 96 batters, setting a new Major League season record with ​16 13 strikeouts per nine innings.[18]


In May 2012, Jansen became the Dodgers closer after Javy Guerra struggled in the role.[19] At the end of the season, after missing some time due to heart problems, Jansen was replaced as closer by Brandon League.[20] He appeared in 65 games with a 5–3 record, 2.35 ERA, 99 strikeouts and 25 saves.[4]


Jansen with the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers

Jansen was a late addition to the Netherlands national baseball team for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, as he was added to the roster for the semi-finals but did not appear in the game.[21]

Jansen began 2013 as the setup man in the bullpen but resumed the role as closer when League struggled.[22] He was in 75 games with a 4-3 record, 1.88 ERA and 28 saves.[4] He did not allow any runs, in three appearances in the 2013 National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Atlanta Braves[23] but was less effective in the Championship Series (NLCS) against the Cardinals, allowing two runs in two innings.[24]


On February 11, 2014, he avoided his first arbitration hearing by signing a $4.3 million contract with the Dodgers.[25] Fully established as the Dodgers closer in 2014, Jansen worked in 68 games with a 2.76 ERA, 101 strikeouts and 44 saves.[4] He became just the fourth Dodger pitcher in history with 40+ saves in a season, joining Éric Gagné (who did it three times), Todd Worrell and Jeff Shaw.[26] He only pitched one inning in the NLDS against the Cardinals.[27]


On January 16, 2015, he again avoided arbitration by signing a one-year $7.425 million contract with the Dodgers.[28] However, on February 17, he underwent surgery to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot. The recovery time kept him out of action until May.[29] Jansen was eventually activated off the disabled list on May 15 and rejoined the Dodgers roster.[30] Jansen struck out 23 batters in his first 14 games of the season, without giving up a single walk. This broke Jay Howell's team records (set in the 1991 season) of 13 games without a walk to start a season and 20 strikeouts without a walk to start a season.[31] He wound up striking out 27 before he finally walked a batter on June 30, eight shy of the major league record.[32] He made 54 appearances for the team in 2015 with a 2.41 ERA and 36 saves. He also struck out 80 batters, while only walking 8 all season.[33] He became the first Dodgers pitcher with five seasons of 80 or more strikeouts in relief.[34] In his final year of arbitration, Jansen signed a one-year, $10.65 million, contract with the Dodgers on January 15, 2016.[35]


On June 20, 2016, Jansen picked up his 162nd career save against the Washington Nationals, breaking the all-time franchise record held by Éric Gagné.[36] He was also selected to the National League team for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, his first all-star selection.[37] On August 24, 2016, Jansen tied Jim Brewer's franchise record for strikeouts by a reliever with the 604th of his career.[38] In 71 games, he was 3–2 with a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves, earning him the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award.[39]


On January 10, 2017, the Dodgers announced the re-signing of Jansen to a five-year, $80 million contract.[40] On June 11, he recorded his 200th career save against the Cincinnati Reds.[41]

On June 2, 2017, Jansen recorded his 36th strikeout of the season, setting an MLB season record for most strikeouts without giving up a walk.[42] The previous record was held by St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, who struck out 35 batters before giving up a walk in the 2013 season.[43] The streak eventually reached 51 strikeouts before he recorded his first walk of the season on June 25 against the Colorado Rockies.[44] He was named to his second straight all-star game.[45] Jansen pitched in 65 games for the Dodgers in 2017, with five wins, a 1.32 ERA, 109 strikeouts (with only seven walks) and 41 saves.[4] For the second straight year, he was awarded with the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award.[46]

Jansen started the playoffs by finishing all three games of the Dodgers 2017 NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks. He saved two of the games and did not allow an earned run in 3​23 innings.[4] He pitched 4​13 innings over four games in the 2017 NLCS against the Cubs and did not allow a batter to reach base, while striking out eight.[4] Jansen allowed two runs to score, including a solo homer by Marwin González in Game Two of the 2017 World Series against the Houston Astros. It was his first blown save in the post-season and snapped his MLB record of converting his first 12 post-season save opportunities.[47] In Game Five of the series, he picked up the loss in the Dodgers 10 inning defeat. In his second inning of work, he hit Brian McCann with two outs and then after a walk, he gave up a walk-off single to Alex Bregman.[48] Overall, he pitched 8​23 innings over six games, with two saves and three runs allowed as the Dodgers lost the series in seven games.[4]


Jansen was selected to his third straight all-star game in 2018.[49]

Pitching style[edit]

Jansen relies almost exclusively on a cut fastball topping out at 98 mph, making his much faster than Mariano Rivera.[50] In 2012, he used this pitch about 93% of the time. His other main pitch is a slider in the low 80s. He experimented with a changeup in the 2009–2011 seasons and debuted a four-seam fastball at the end of the 2012 season.[51] Jansen relies both on movement and exceptional command, throwing over 70% strikes.

Jansen has recorded extremely high strikeout rates, garnering 14.6 strikeouts per 9 innings through the 2012 season. This is the second-highest total in history among pitchers who have thrown at least 140 innings (behind only Craig Kimbrel).[52]

Health issues[edit]

Jansen was diagnosed in 2011 with an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) and he missed some time that season while he was placed on blood thinners to correct the problem. However, the problem resurfaced late in the 2012 season and he again missed considerable time while being treated.[53][54] On October 24, 2012, Jansen underwent a three-hour procedure in which a surgeon identified abnormal tissue in his left atrium that was generating abnormal electrical signals and cauterized it.[55]

Jansen suffered a recurrence of his irregular heartbeat on August 9, 2018 prior to a game in Denver and underwent medical testing, with the team reporting that he would likely miss a month of the season.[56]

Personal life[edit]

Jansen lives with his parents in Curaçao during the offseason, and they live with him in Los Angeles when they visit him during the season.[2] Jansen has a daughter who was born on March 16, 2013, Natalia Hannah Jansen and two sons Kaden Isaiah Jansen born on August 16, 2015 and Kyrian Jeremiah Jansen, born on August 22, 2018. Despite the fact that he throws right-handed, he writes with his left hand.[57]


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