- Teddy Mitrosilis, ESPN.com
Was it something Kenley Jansen said? How else do you explain how he was used in 2011?
While Don Mattingly fed other Dodgers relievers more critical innings, Jansen became one of baseball's most dominant relievers. The rookie's 44 percent strikeout rate in 53 2/3 innings led all qualified relievers -- yup, even Mr. Kimbrel.
FanGraphs attempts to measure the pressure, or "leverage," of situations with a stat called leverage index (considers inning, outs, score, runners on base), and Jansen ranked 103rd in 2011. Essentially, in situations that needed any reliever, Jansen pitched. In critical spots that demanded an elite one, Jansen was buried in the Dodger Stadium bullpen hedges.
Because of this, Jansen "broke out" in 2012. He earned a higher-profile bullpen job in his second season and dominated, striking out 39 percent of batters and walking 9 percent in 65 innings with a 2.35 ERA. He threw 94 percent fastballs, which touched the mid-90s and averaged 92 mph. Of course, Jansen's velocity is deceiving. A natural cut makes his 92 more difficult to handle.
So Jansen was a dominant reliever who relied almost exclusively on a cut fastball. Sound familiar? Jansen isn't Mariano Rivera -- there's only one -- but Rivera has topped the 30 percent strikeout rate only once in his career. Just sayin'.
With the opinions of MLB officials mixed in, here are five pitchers who could pull a Jansen and break out in their second seasons in 2013.
3hTony Lee, Special to ESPN.com