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Daily Dodger in review: Kenley Jansen goes lights out

Jansen1
KENLEY JANSEN
, 24, reliever

Final 2011 stats: 2-1, 2.85 ERA, five saves, 1.04 WHIP, 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings, .159 opponent batting average.

Contract status: Under team control.

The good: Get serious. He was so good, it was scary. At least for opponents. In his last 30 appearances, he allowed just two earned runs (0.55 ERA).

A converted catcher, in just his second full season as a pitcher he set the major league record for strikeouts per nine innings. He had an 0.72 ERA when ahead in the count. He allowed just 17 earned runs all season (53 2/3 innings) and 12 of those came in three early-season games.

He was someone you wanted to see pitch.

The bad: Struggled in April and the end of May before finally acknowledging a sore shoulder. Once he returned, he was practically unhittable.

He did go on the disabled list a second time with an irregular heartbeat at the end of July.

With runners in scoring position, had a 10.22 ERA (12 1/3 innings). Otherwise, it was get out of his way.

What’s next: At this point, he’s the team’s setup man, though his final role remains something of a moving target.

He pitches like a classic closer –- plenty of heat -– but with the unexpected arrival of Javy Guerra as a closer, the Dodgers can afford to continue using Jansen either to set up or put down late-inning rallies.

The take: If he stays healthy, he’s going to be a delight to watch develop. He’s still learning how to pitch, but as a former catcher, he's a quick study. He is probably still developing arm strength, but looks ideal as a reliever. He’s certainly taken to the role.

From the middle of June on, he was only the best reliever in baseball. He just turned 24 in September, so there could be many a meaningful inning ahead.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen delivers a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 1. Credit: Justin K. Aller / Getty Images

 
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