Kenley Jansen sits on the brink of history with the 2023 Boston Red Sox
With his next save, Boston Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen will make history as one of only seven players in Major League Baseball history to reach the 400-save milestone. Let that sink in .... seven players in history. This accomplishment is an exclamation point on the early part of his first season with the Boston Red Sox which has seen him deliver an exceptional performance on and off the field.
After a closer-by-committee approach yielded disastrous results last season, the Red Sox signed Jansen this offseason to be their closer. The veteran closer signed a two-year, $32MM contract in December. Jansen entered the 13th year of his career just nine saves away from 400. In spring training, he made changes to his delivery to adjust to the pitch clock and associated balk rules. He also left a spring training game with dizziness which raised some concerns given his prior history of cardiac arrhythmia.
Given all this, he entered the 2023 season with some question marks. However, Jansen quickly and emphatically answered these questions with his performance on the field. Entering Tuesday's game against one of his old teams, the Atlanta Braves, Jansen has dominated. He has a 0.84 ERA while converting eight of nine save opportunities. He has not allowed a run In ten of his eleven appearances.
Putting Red Sox closer Kenly Jansen's upcoming feat into perspective
His dominance at the end of games has also created a trickle-down effect for the rest of the Red Sox bullpen. Other relievers like John Schreiber and Josh Winckowski have thrived in their clearly defined setup roles. Coming into Tuesday, the Red Sox bullpen is 8th in Major League Baseball in ERA. These numbers are even better if Ryan Brasier's cough "contributions" are removed as noted below by @BallParkBuzz.
The Red Sox have seen several relievers go down with injuries including Zack Kelly, Chris Martin, Joely Rodriguez, Wyatt Mills, and Kutter Crawford. Having Jansen as a stable force at the end of games has prevented the bullpen from imploding and allowed the Red Sox bullpen to take the next-man-up approach.
Jansen has been an important contributor off the field as well bringing his experience and leadership to aid the younger members of the Red Sox staff. At the end of March, John Tomase of NBC Sports Boston detailed how Jansen helped a "dejected" Zack Kelly after a bad outing early in the season. Jansen knelt beside Kelly post-game and offered words of encouragement and advice. Kelly told Tomase, "It means a lot...As good as he is, all the accolades that he's earned, everything he's got, he's still a team-first guy".
The Boston Red Sox are 21-15 in large part to their improved bullpen that has been anchored by Kenley Jansen both on and off the field.
The Boston Red Sox are 21-15 in large part to their improved bullpen that has been anchored by Kenley Jansen both on and off the field. When he gets his 400th save, he will take his place in the baseball record book alongside some of the great closers in baseball history. In the video above, Jansen tells FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal after his 399th save, "I ain't done yet". Like Jansen, Red Sox Nation is hoping this is just the start of a historic season for him and the team.