Kenley Jansen (35‧ Boston) climbed the mound in the ninth inning with a 5-3 lead in a game against the Los Angeles Angels held at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts on the 15th (Korean time). It was an uneasy two-point difference. The hitters on standby competed.
For the Angels, Mike Trout was the lead batter in the ninth inning, and Shohei Ohtani was waiting right behind him. They were players who could spew long hits at any time. He climbed the mound with a two-point lead, but it was an inning in which everyone would have some anxiety. However, with Jansen’s stable pitching, the Angels’ final counterattack ended in vain. Jansen showed off his strength with his changed restraint.
Jansen threw the 4th pitch cutter (95.8 miles) outward in Trout’s at-bat 1B-2S situation, leading to a strikeout with a swing. Following Ohtani’s at-bat, he struck out looking with a high cutter (95.9 miles) with an advantageous count of 1B-2S. The angle fell so sharply that Ohtani could not use his hands for a moment. Jansen struck out Hunter Renfro in the ensuing second out and first base and closed the game.
What surprised me on the spot was Jansen’s cutter restraint. Jansen is a strong finisher with a powerful cutter that breaks sharply at the last minute. It was a pitch with the highest value in the league. However, the problem was that the pitch of this cutter also became flat as his speed decreased as he entered his 30s. Opposing hitters were no longer afraid of Jansen’s cutter. Jansen’s ERA, which was in the 1 point range every time and was in the early 2 point range no matter how high it was, soared beyond the 3 point range to the point where you have to worry about the 4 point range. 메이저놀이터
However, this cutter velocity, which was on a downward trend, began to rebound. Jansen’s cutter velocity steadily went downhill from 93.2 miles (about 150 km) in 2017, dropping to 90.9 miles (about 146.3 km) in 2021. However, since last year, cutter velocity has rebounded, and this year, the average cutter velocity reaches 95 miles (about 152.9 km). Cutter, who actually struck out Trout and Ohtani, reached 96 mph. Rather than in his prime, the cutter speed has become faster.
In an interview with local media such as the Boston Globe after the game, Jansen said, “I was also surprised” about the increase in cutter velocity, and said, “I am satisfied with this situation and will continue to flow in the future.” As for the secret, “I did a lot of stretching in the offseason. I put my hips in a better position. I also watch a lot of videos from 2012 to 2014 (which were the best). I have two TVs in the gym and I always watch highlights while working out. I tried to return to my old self,” he said, diagnosing that flexibility and changes in pitching form helped a part.
Such Jansen recorded a save on the 16th as well, throwing 5 innings in 5 appearances this season, recording 1 win, 4 saves and 0 ERA. If the cutter restraint continues, expectations are growing that a rebound from last year’s performance (3.38 ERA in 65 games) will be possible.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, Jansen’s home team, did not offer a new contract, judging that Jansen’s pitch continued to decline, and practically gave up Jansen in the free agent market. Everyone said they were right, but Jansen is proving that he still has more fuel in his tank in his first season with Boston. The two-year, $32 million (approximately 41.8 billion won) contract evaluation has also changed favorably, and now there are five left to his personal career of 400 saves.