San Francisco Giants: Evaluating Free Agent Closer Options
It’s happening all over again, the San Francisco Giants have an opportunity to once again steal a star pitcher away from their bitter rival Dodgers. Signing Kenley Jansen, 29, would create another huge gap for the Dodgers to fill, crippling their ninth-inning success, as he’s dominated the closer’s role for LA since 2011. Jansen may be the most impactful move the Giants can make for a number of reasons.
He dominated 2016, going 3-2, with a 1.83 ERA in 68.2 innings, while striking out 104.
Jansen had the highest WAR(3.2), lowest HR/FB(5.6), lowest WHIP(0.67), and his 104 strikeouts were tops among the available free agent options.
Aside from the lure of acquiring Jansen and weakening the Dodgers, Jansen’s signing would be extremely beneficial. He simply doesn’t give up runs when opponents reach base.
He leads available options with a LOB% of 85.3 percent, showing he can buckle down when pressure starts to mount. That led to 47 saves converted in the regular season. His fastball averaged 94.3 mph and he mixes that with his cutter, which is used 89.7 percent of the time on pitches thrown.
Jansen also has the most effective pitch out of all three options and that would be his fastball. Using PITCHf/x on fangraphs, it shows per 100 pitches thrown the average runs saved by a particular pitch thrown. Zero is registered as an average score, and statistics can be positive or negative, the higher being better.
Jansen’s fastball registered a wFA/C of 3.68 per 100 pitches thrown, which is well above average, and more than a full run saved higher than Chapman’s 104 mph fastball, or Melancon.
The 29-year-old proved this October that he is primed for the big stage as well. Showing extreme durability, he threw 11.2 innings, while converting all three save attempts, and posting a 3.21 ERA.
Dave Roberts relied on Jansen heavily in October to protect leads or secure ties, and he was rewarded for his trust. Jansen surpassed one-inning of work during five of his seven appearances, allowing zero runs in all of those outings, while striking out 17. His longest outing was three-innings during game six of the NLCS, where he struck out four and allowed zero hits.
Those are the type of outings San Francisco Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy would love to see again during the regular season, and especially the postseason. With ample opportunity to strengthen the club, and weaken a divisional opponent, expect the Giants to make a strong push for Jansen.
Could the club make a stronger push for the most feared closer in the game?