Dodger closer Kenley Jansen began his baseball career as a catcher who threw so hard that he was converted to a pitcher.
In 2011, he dominated major league batters to the tune of sixteen strikeouts for every nine hitters he faced. And, much like all-time great closer Mariano Rivera, he is a master of the cutter. And only the cutter. Also like Rivera, he can’t explain why he can get by with one pitch, but he does.
Last week he completed a rarity — the reliever’s perfect game — as he retired 27 consecutive opposing batters.
Since he reclaimed the late-game role from Brandon League, he’s recorded 19 saves and a 2.08 ERA. Remarkable numbers for a remarkable pitcher with a remarkable story.
He’s been doing all of it following major off-season heart surgery that threatened to derail — or even end — his promising career.
After medication failed to cure Jansen’s atrial fibrillation — a potentially fatal condition that cause one’s heart to flutter and skip beats — a decision was made to perform a cardiac ablation. It’s a procedure that burns out the portion of heart tissue causing the atrial fibrillation.
On The Joe McDonnell Podcast (click here to listen) Jansen talks about his medical condition, his resurgent career as a closer and the magnificent season the first-place Dodgers have put together.