Three Braves with the Most to Prove in the Postseason

HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Manager Brian Snitker #43 of the Atlanta Braves hoists the commissioner's trophy following the team's 7-0 victory against the Houston Astros in Game Six to win the 2021 World Series at Minute Maid Park on November 02, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 02: Manager Brian Snitker #43 of the Atlanta Braves hoists the commissioner's trophy following the team's 7-0 victory against the Houston Astros in Game Six to win the 2021 World Series at Minute Maid Park on November 02, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
3 of 4
Next
Atlanta Braves
ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 22: Kenley Jansen #74 of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

Kenley Jansen

Only 5 years ago, there was no doubt about who the best reliever in baseball was. In 2017, Kenley Jansen posted a 1.32 ERA and 41 saves, one of the most dominant relief seasons we have seen.

Since 2017, questions began to arise as to whether Kenley Jansen is still at the same level, or even elite anymore. The fact is, he is no longer the best reliever/closer in baseball. He lost that title years ago.

Since joining the Braves, however, many have questioned whether he even deserves to be closing out games in Atlanta. He has a 3.63 ERA and 36 saves in the 2022 season, though his 7 blown saves have been a cause for concern for many Braves fans.

He has shown signs that his age is beginning to get to him.

His velocity is not what it once was. His fastball velocity is 2 miles per hour slower on average this year than it was in 2016, which is quite a substantial drop. He has been able to make up for the loss of velocity with his ability to hit spots.

While he has been accurate enough to get by, his walk rate has increased by 6% since his stellar 2017 season, indicating even his accuracy is going by the wayside.

I am under the personal belief that Jansen, like many other closers, often catch way too much flack. I often believe fans will blindly blame the closer and not look into whether they are really to blame.

The expectation for closers is that they have to be perfect always, and with the Braves down to some of their most crucial games of the year, that expectation only increases for Kenley.

With all that being said, Jansen has definitely shown signs of regression, which may be troubling for many Braves’ fans.

October coming up gives Jansen a great opportunity to prove his value to a team during the postseason. A great postseason performance could extend Jansen’s years with the Braves or with another team looking for a big righty out of the bullpen.