Dodgers Now

The Times' Dodgers reporters give you all the news on the boys in blue

« Previous Post | Dodgers Now Home | Next Post »

Daily Dodger in Review: Kenley Jansen, greatest failed catcher ever?

October 29, 2010 |  7:20 am

KENLEY JANSEN, 23, relief pitcher

Final 2010 stats: 1-0, four saves, 0.67 ERA, 13.67 strikeouts-to-walks ratio, 1.00 WHIP in 27 innings.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: A lightning bolt from the baseball heavens. Was insanely good, particularly considering just over a year before his call-up, he was a failed catching prospect. Threw hard, as expected, but also had considerable poise. Had a stunning 41 strikeouts to 15 walks in his 27 innings. His 0.67 ERA was the fourth lowest for a rookie in major league history (minimum 25 innings). Also, could be baseball’s only switch-hitting pitcher.

The bad: Well, he did give up two earned runs. Really, there is no bad here. He needs experience, but there is nothing to complain about after he was called up July 23.

What’s next: The upside is absolutely intriguing. Despite his quick rise to the majors after being converted to a pitcher in the middle of the 2009 season, he and Carlos Monasterios are currently in the Arizona Instructional League. Jansen is working on pickoff throws, holding runners and developing secondary pitches.

The kind of fundamental stuff most pitchers were able to work on early in their careers. Only this is early in his career.

The take: Jansen was one of the few Dodgers bright spots in a season dominated by disappointment. He’s young (turns 24 in September), talented, eager to learn and his confidence is swelling.

Maybe not next year -- though it could happen -- but he looks like a future closer. In the Dodgers’ dreams, Jonathan Broxton returns to form as the closer next season and Jansen is the right-handed setup complement to left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo. Come on, everyone should have dreams.

Certainly, it’s unrealistic to expect anyone to continue on his amazing straight line to stardom without setback; particularly anyone with such limited pitching experience.

His time as a catcher, however, seems to be partially translating to the mound. Jansen is way ahead of where even the most optimistic would have projected. The enthusiasm needs to be constrained, but he’s made it hard.

-- Steve Dilbeck