Dodgers: Mark Prior Says Kenley Jansen Needs More Than the Cutter

Kenley Jansen is all the rage these days — especially after consecutive impressive outings (and a slow off-day). While the hope is that we can believe our eyes when it comes to the resurgent velocity and movement on the cutter, Dodgers bullpen coach Mark Prior shares a more realistic viewpoint on the greater subject.

They start getting older, their stuff starts to regress and it’s the adapting period. It gets a little screwy. He’s going through that right now, where maybe the cutter’s not as good as it was in 2017. I think he understands that.

Is it still good? Yes. Is it to the point where he can throw it 95 percent of the time, even when they know it’s coming and they cheat to it? I don’t think so. — Via Pedro Moura, The Athletic

Just about everyone and their grandma knows you can likely sit cutter when it comes to Kenley Jansen, so Prior is not wrong with the latter statement. Moreover, Jansen will turn 32 in less than two weeks. Undoubtedly his stuff would have regressed with age. This leaves Prior 2-2.

Clayton Kershaw — 6 months Kenley’s junior — has learned to adapt to reduced velocity with age. Even if its relying on shaping a slider more than any other pitch, Kershaw has played the game of adjustments with father time.

On the other hand, Jansen has fought with the Dodgers about his “number one pitch” this season. He understands that his cutter is still second to none in his repertoire, but the hard-headed reliance on only that pitch has caused more than a scene or two with his catchers and his manager.

Dave Roberts on those situations.

I think he can be stubborn at times. He can be convicted at times. It’s been a little – we’ve got to work things out as far as what we want to do to get Kenley and the catchers on the same page.

That was in May.

Now, Kenley is riding high over his last two outings, and in the month of September. So far in the final month of the regular season, the big man has an ERA of 1.80 in 5 appearances. His movement appears to have returned, the velocity on his cutter has absolutely trended upward, and he’s mixing in different pitches.

Impressive no doubt, but is it an outlier?

11 games remain in the regular season for Los Angeles.

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