After a couple of tough losses, some Atlanta Braves fans are questioning Kenley Jansen’s role as closer — but here is why they shouldn’t.
Jansen was coming off a really dominant season with the Dodgers where he had a 2.22 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 86 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched along with 38 saves in 43 chances.
With the Braves this season he has an ERA of 3.40 and a WHIP of 1.09 in 47.2 innings with 64 strikeouts and 29 saves in 34 chances.
Certainly, there have been some frustrating blown saves, but the numbers say Jansen is still the best man for the job.
Braves: The Numbers Back Jansen
If you look at the analytics for Jansen, they highly favor the 34-year-old closer.
He’s in the 94th percentile or higher for HardHit%, xBA, xSLG, and K%.
The 3.40 ERA would be the second-highest of his career, but his expected ERA of 2.25 tells a different story.
His .199 batting average against is above his career average of 1.79, but again, his expected batting average against of .168 shows that perhaps he’s been a bit unlucky.
The velocity on his pitches is the same and still, no one really hits his cutter.
However, his sinker has been more hittable this season with a batting average of .255 against that pitch compared to just .147 last year.
Maybe one reason for that is he’s lost some break on the sinker. Last year that pitch had 6.9 inches of horizontal break and this year it’s down to 4.7 inches.
That could also be the reason why his groundball percentage has dipped some and his flyball percentage is up.
The walk percentage started going up in 2020, was terrible last year, and is now back around 8.8 percent where it was in 2020.
That’s one of the biggest concerns with Jansen are the walks, and then the inability to hold runners on, which turns a walk into a double.
And what frustrates most fans is there aren’t a lot of clean innings.
Before Saturday’s blowup, Jansen was really having a solid month of August. But even with that, he had only had one clean outing this month.
But he has had 19 clean outings this year. He had a stretch in April where seven-of-eight outings were clean.
Baserunners are going to happen — even the best closers have a WHIP around 1.
He’s allowed at least 1 run in 13 of 48 outings this year. And only four times has he allowed more than 1 run.
While he has blown 5 save opportunities, Saturday was the first loss of the season he’s taken.
The facts of the matter are more often than not, Jansen comes through and he’s remains the best option at closer.