Jansen went 1-for-3 with a grand slam in Monday's split-squad game against the Rays. After Blake Snell had walked four of the first five batters he faced and gotten the hook, Trevor Richards entered the game and was promptly taken deep by Jansen on his second pitch. The 24-year-old catcher focused on improving his hitting routine and swing mechanics this offseason and the work has paid off in spades so far, as Jansen now sports a .429/.529/1.071 slash line through 17 plate appearances with three homers and a 3:1 BB:K. After a disappointing 2019 campaign at the plate, Jansen could be poised for a breakout.
Jansen spent the offseason developing a pre-game hitting routine to help him maintain a consistent swing plane and spot flaws in his mechanics, Gregor Chisholm of The Toronto Star reports. The 24-year-old came up through the minors with a reputation as a bat-first catcher, but he spent last season focused on improving his defense and pitch framing. His .639 OPS reflected the lack of attention he was giving that side of his game, but Jansen now hits a weighted ball off a tee as part of his pre-game preparations. "I've always taken hitting very seriously, but I've always felt like I just didn't need tee work," Jansen said Tuesday morning. "I just wanted to get my timing down, that was the most important thing for me, until I went into this off-season and developed. I like to hit off a tee now, I actually want to, and I need it. I'm starting to understand my body more and my swing." He posted a .275/.390/.473 slash line through 88 games for Triple-A Buffalo in 2018, and a return to something close to that level of production would likely allow Jansen to seize the No. 1 job behind the plate for Toronto rather than working in a timeshare with Reese McGuire.
Jansen isn't in the starting lineup for Tuesday's game against the Red Sox. Jansen has started just three games in September, and he's failed to register a hit over that stretch (0-for-9). Reese McGuire is set to handle the catching duties and hit seventh.
Jansen is out of the lineup against the Rays on Saturday. Jansen appears to have lost his role down the stretch, as he's started just four of the last 11 games behind the plate. Reese McGuire gets the nod Saturday in his absence.
Jansen is not in the lineup Tuesday against Atlanta. Jansen sits for the third time in the last five games. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him on the bench fairly frequently down the stretch, as he's hit just .208/.280/.366 this season. Beau Taylor will catch Tuesday.