Jansen recorded the last three strikeouts of Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. This time around, the lead was just two points, half the cushion of his outing on Friday, his first save since the Dodgers’ first playoff game 17 days ago. Jansen, who faced the lower order of the Braves, was helped by a slippery grip from Joc Pederson to open the set, then secured routine steals from Nick Markakis and Pablo Sandoval. Six throws, three outs to force a game 7.
“If we’re going to get to where we want to be, and have that trophy at the end of the year, we’re going to need him,” said Justin Turner, the Dodgers third baseman. “He’s going to play an important role. Two big outings, not only for us but for him personally. And you can just see the confidence he has on the mound, attacking guys. It’s Kenley Jansen I and all of us in there. to know and love. ”
Jansen wasn’t bad this season – he finished with a 3.33 ERA, 33 strikeouts and nine goals in 24 – but again, he hasn’t been consistently dominant. The speed on his cutter started to drop below 90 mph towards the end of the regular season, and he started the playoffs on shaky ground.
After Jansen failed to secure a three-point lead over the San Diego Padres in Game 3 of the Division Series, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts temporarily pulled him out of high leverage situations. His next appearance was with a 14-point lead in the sixth inning of Game 3 of the NLCS. But Roberts noticed a smoother, more repeatable delivery on this outing. After Jansen hit the side to easily hold a four-point lead in the ninth inning of Game 5, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said he saw someone pitching with confidence again.
On Saturday, Jansen threw his cutter from 90 to 91 mph and mixed it with a two-seamer that approached the mid-90s.
“The game pays homage to him,” Roberts said of Jansen. “I couldn’t be happier and more proud of him. ”
Jansen, 33, has spent the last few weeks looking to synchronize his upper half and lower half, an ongoing problem for someone with a 6-foot-5, 265-pound frame. Days ago, through conversations with longtime pitchers Charlie Hough and Rick Honeycutt, both of whom still have ties to the organization, Jansen was able to rediscover clean, simple delivery from his early years. Consistency, he believes, is starting to come.
“There is no role in the playoffs,” Jansen said when asked to be temporarily taken out as the team got closer. “When can you be in the best position to help your team win? “I’ve been here a long time and it’s nothing else to have a ring here with the organization. This is the last thing I feel I have to accomplish here. We want it. We want it for everyone, and the fans deserve it and it’s about winning a championship here. “