Kenley Jansen is the newest member of the 400-save club. Wednesday night at Truist Park, the current Boston Red Sox closer and longtime Los Angeles Dodgers closer tossed a scoreless ninth inning in his team's win over the Atlanta Braves (BOS 5, ATL 2) to become the seventh member of the 400-save club.
"It's just surreal," Jansen told MLB.com after the game. "It's just crazy. I can say today I'm the seventh guy who did that. With baseball being around for so long, it's unbelievable. I'm just going to continue to let this keep motivating me and keep striving for more."
Jansen threw a 98.7 mph cutter Wednesday night, his hardest pitch since August 2016. "My first save, I was throwing 99. And then my 400th save, it flashed today. It's great, man," he told MLB.com. Jansen, an avid bass player, was presented with a custom bass guitar by his teammates after the game. It was engraved with "400."
Longtime Dodgers teammates and current Red Sox teammates Enrique Hernàndez and Justin Turner were with Jansen to celebrate the milestone. Several friends and former teammates sent a video message, including Clayton Kershaw, Austin Barnes, and former Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.
"It can't be better than seeing all the old faces," Jansen told MLB.com. "Coaches and teammates. It's awesome, and it's a moment that I will never forget."
Jansen is in his first season with the Red Sox. He spent last year with the Braves and the first 12 years of his career with the Dodgers. Originally signed as a catcher, Jansen never hit much in the minors, and he was 21 when Los Angeles put him on the mound in High Class-A in 2009. He reached the big leagues just one year later and was immediate late-inning force, and has since become one of the greatest closers of his generation.
Here is the all-time saves leaderboard:
- Mariano Rivera: 652
- Trevor Hoffman: 601
- Lee Smith: 478
- Francisco Rodríguez: 437
- John Franco: 424
- Billy Wagner: 422
- Kenley Jansen: 400
The leaderboard skews recent given the changes in bullpen roles and bullpen usage over the years. Rivera, Hoffman, and Smith are all in the Hall of Fame and Wagner may soon join them. His support climbed to 68.1% this year, his eighth year on the ballot. Wagner has two more years to get over the 75% threshold needed to get into the Hall of Fame.
Wagner making the Hall of Fame could help Jansen -- and also Craig Kimbrel, who is currently eighth all-time with 397 saves -- one day find himself in Cooperstown. Voters have become increasingly supportive of modern one-inning closers in recent years and Jansen (and Kimbrel) are the best of this era. Jansen will have a viable Hall of Fame case when the time comes.
This season Jansen is 9 for 10 in save chances. He has 0.77 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings. For his career, Jansen owns a 2.43 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 780 2/3 innings. He also has a 2.20 ERA and 20 saves in 65 1/3 career postseason innings.