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Kenley Jansen back to dominating for Dodgers

Kenley Jansen back to dominating for Dodgers
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gets ready to pitch during the eighth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 16. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

There was a moment there when Kenley Jansen might have made you a tad nervous. He has been so remarkably consistent that any small misstep on his season tends to raise eyebrows.

Yet there they were, six games stretched from July 18-31 when Jansen looked less than his typically dominating self. In those six games, he allowed five runs in five innings, three coming via the home run.

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And then, as if to reassure all those who seem to get nervous about Jansen at some point every season, came his last six games -- six innings, five saves, no runs, 12 strikeouts and zero walks.

Jansen battled the flu during his poor six-game stretch, but otherwise is putting together what may prove to be his finest season. And one where he missed the first five weeks of the season following spring foot surgery.

On the season, Jansen has saved 24 games in 25 opportunities. He has a career-best 0.70 WHIP, and perhaps surprisingly to those that remember his breakout 2011 season, his strikeouts per nine innings is at 16.3 -- which would break the record of 16.1 he set four years ago.

He's doing all this without walking people. He has walked four batters in his 32 2/3 innings. That gives him a stunning 14.75 strikeouts-to-walk ratio -- more than double his career best.

When his cutter is breaking, it almost defies being hit. Some have expressed concern his velocity has dropped, but he was still hitting 94 mph on the radar gun Sunday when he saved the Dodgers' 2-1 win over the Reds.

That save was the 130th of his career, moving him past Jeff Shaw into second on the Los Angeles Dodgers' all-time list. And remember, this is really only his second season as the Dodgers undisputed full-time closer.

Still, he has shown himself to be one of the game's best closers for four seasons. For his career, he's been placed in 148 save situations and made good on 130. Opponents are batting just .173 against him.

In a bullpen of unpredictable and constantly changing parts, he has been a rock. The one piece the Dodgers can count on.

Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @SteveDilbeck

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