Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen notched his 11th save of the season — and the 200th of his career — with a scoreless ninth inning during Sunday’s 9-7 victory over the Reds. He struck out one and, as usual, he did not walk a batter.
Jansen, 29, has now pitched 26 1/3 innings on the season, racking up 43 strikeouts without walking a single batter. He’s the only qualified pitcher in baseball yet to walk a batter. The Blue Jays’ Roberto Osuna has the next-fewest walks with two over 24 2/3 innings.
Jansen put up one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios in 2015, striking out 80 while walking eight. There were only nine better seasons going by K/BB ratio. Dennis Eckersley has the best mark (18.33), walking only three with 55 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings in 1989. If the season were to end today, Jansen’s K/BB ratio would be an impressive and unprecented “INF,” or “infinite.”
You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.
Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.
Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.
Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.