Dan's Dugout: Can Kenley Recapture Lost Charisma? • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Can Kenley Recapture Lost Charisma?

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are worried that Superman has morphed into Clark Ken.

Kenley Jansen is no sure thing anymore
Credit: Topps

After injecting himself into Cy Young Award contention a year ago, Kenley Jansen has watched his balloon burst into shards of Dodger blue this spring.

His velocity is down while his ERA is up. He’s suddenly best friends with the gopherball. And he’s already blown twice as many saves in the opening month as he did all of last season.

On a team with only a shaky suspension bridge between the rotation and the closer, that is not good news.

His troubles really began in the World Series, which the Houston Astros won primarily because Jansen parlayed a weary arm with unexpected exposure to kryptonite in October.

If anyone was the culprit for the Los Angeles loss, he’s the guy. Or don’t you remember the 13-12 game that went back and forth like a see-saw ridden by Donald Trump and Robert Mueller?

Jansen pitched poorly in the 2017 World Series

When Jansen was still ensconced in his Superman cape, he saved all but one of 42 save chances last summer, when his earned run average was a microscopic 1.32. He also averaged 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings, rare air usually breathed only by Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman.

Only Greg Holland, then with the Rockies, saved as many games in the National League.

This year, Jansen started slowly and hasn’t caught his breath. Throwing game-losing gopherballs to the forgettable Joe Panik hasn’t helped, especially since the Giants hadn’t won consecutive 1-0 games to start a season since 1908.

Jansen’s cutter has become hittable this month

After yielding 5.8 hits per nine innings last year, Jansen is clocking in at 10.4 – with an equally ugly earned run average of 6.23. The cut fastball, his pet pitch, is behaving as erratically as a pit bull in heat. Hitters are averaging .233 against the closer from Curacao, who held batters to a .189 mark in 2017.

A former catcher for the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic, Jansen is the key to keeping the NL flag in Southern California. Unless he finds his way, the Dodgers won’t find theirs.

If the Colorado Rockies cull their usual offense, a likely develop when the weather warms, the Dodgers could be knocked off their postseason pedestal. The team has not won a world championship since 1981 and may have to wait just a wee bit longer.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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