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Panic in streets? No, time for some patience with Kenley Jansen

June 14, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck

You want perfection. Want him to strike out every batter, knock at 100 mph with every pitch, to never give up a single hit.

Otherwise, Kenley Jansen can be whomever he wants.

Except, of course, much like everyone else in the history of baseball, Jansen is not perfect. He makes mistakes, and sometimes they prove very costly.

So in two of the Dodgers’ last three games, he walks off the losing pitcher. Enters the ninth in a tie game and gives up the winning hit.

And you’re thinking, what? Fear is gripping your little heart, worried that he was too good to be true, that he really is a converted catcher not ready to be finishing a major-league game, that the dream of Kenley Jansen Super Closer is about to blow up?

Relax, the biggest problem here is that Jansen spoiled every one rotten. Last season he set a major-league record, averaging 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings. You can’t expect that kind of continued, record production.

This season he is averaging 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings, which is certainly a drop-off, but still stupidly good.

And,despite what Don Mattingly said, going in to pitch the ninth in a tie game is not the same as being placed in closing situation. It’s just a different feel, a different anticipation.

“It’s basically a close situation,” Mattingly said. “You can’t give up a run there.

“That’s a high-intensity situation. You give up a run, you’re not going to win very many games.”

But if you’re Jansen, you’re going to quickly lose two.

Jansen has saved 10 games in 13 tries this season. He has quickly learned to relish that closing moment. And he’s certainly learned how to talk like a closer.

“You have to have a short memory in this game,” Jansen said. “You can’t worry about it. Just go out and try to do my best and help the team win. I don’t think about anything else.”

Nor should he. Does he warrant close scrutiny? Certainly. Does he warrant panic in the streets? Absolutely not.

Remember, he started the 2009 season as a light-hitting catcher. He’s come a remarkable way, if there is still much to learn, he’s earned some patience.

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