Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Kenley Jansen was at his overall statistical best during the 2017 season, when he saved 41 games with an elite strikeout rate, the best ground ball rate of his terrific career and a sweet 1.32 ERA that nearly matched a cool 1.31 FIP. That was peak Jansen. Since then, fantasy managers have seen a different and occasionally concerning Jansen - and health reasons may play some role - but it was reasonable to think this was a key season in deciding Jansen's future as a top 10 closer for fantasy baseball.
Well, consider Jansen having passed the test. He was a top 5 closer, yet again. No, Jansen did not deliver 2017 numbers, and his 2.30 ERA is a bit misleading and nearly a run better than his FIP, but still, Jansen perseveres. He adjusts. A year ago, we wondered if Jansen was L.A.'s closer merely due to loyalty, because the franchise stubbornly keeps him in the role (for the regular season) based on career achievement, and perhaps this is partly the case. Still, do not expect any change in 2022, either. Jansen will not relinquish closing duties anytime soon.
As we take a very early look at the top 20 relief pitchers for 2022 drafts, before the 2021 season ends and well prior to knowing where some top options will call home, Jansen deserves credit for succeeding. For a while in 2021, we worried about a bloated walk rate, but then he ceased walking hitters. Jansen was overwhelmingly home run friendly in 2018-19, but not so much since. He threw his signature cutter harder this season and hitters struggled to hit it. The 2021 version of Jansen should be able to thrive for several more seasons, and fantasy managers should continue to invest with minimal concern.
Here is an early top 20 among relief pitchers for 2022.