The pitch clock is working as intended this season with quicker games, but there may be some unintended consequences as well.
Pitchers are getting injured at an alarming rate and people are starting to take notice. Rich Hill and Matt Strahm are two players that have come out with their concerns, and Kenley Jansen echoed their sentiments this weekend.
Jansen joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” and talked about some of his serious concerns with the pitch clock.
“Totally. I’m not going to lie to you. It feels totally different,” Jansen said (6:12 in player above). “It’s just that pitch clock, man. It’s something else. But we have to adjust to it. I’m not the type that’s going to complain about it. This game is a game of adjustment and that’s what they want us to do … It’s definitely challenging, but I’m out there having fun.”
Jansen had trouble adjusting last weekend against the Cardinals when he blew back-to-back save opportunities on Friday and Saturday. Still, he’s picked up 10 saves this season to get to over 400 in his career.
“You’re learning and adjusting right now, especially when you come out there and you’re not throwing strikes. It can get a little challenging,” he continued. “What would you do if there’s no pitch clock there? You learn how to slow down the game, reset your mind, go back out there and attack the zone. That’s the one thing for me, I’m learning how to adjust to that.”
The veteran closer specifically mentioned how after a four-pitch walk a pitcher would typically take his time to reset himself. That’s not possible anymore with the pitch clock.
“As a closer, what you learn is to slow the game down because the game will speed up on you,” Jansen said. “In the ninth inning, it will speed up quick on you. That’s the challenging part. I have to figure that part out still.”
Jansen is thankful that major league baseball is stepping up to make the game better, but there are some injury concerns, especially on the pitching side of things.
“Your body feels different now. I’m not a person that gets sore so quick,” he said. “You’re not pacing yourself out there. Hey, if this is better for the game then we’ve got to figure out how to train ourselves to make sure recover well because pitchers are getting hurt out there right now.”
In prior years, pitchers would be able to take the time they need between pitches to recover. Now, they’re up against a clock whether they feel like they’re ready to go or not. It’s tough when a pitcher is asked to throw max-effort pitches in high-leverage situations.
“Just thinking about it, if you have a car and you are constantly racing it, what are you going to do? A hose is going to blow. Something is going to blow,” Jansen said. “If you want us to be 100 percent every pitch, something is going to happen. I understand you’re trying to cut 20 or 30 minutes out of the game. I love it, too. I’m not going to lie. Shorter games. But you have to see what is beneficial for all of us as pitchers. Especially for starters. Starters don’t get enough time to recover anymore…
“You’re playing with somebody’s career and basically might blow out. I’m not criticizing, but I’m speaking the reality. It’s a love-and-hate thing, because I love it, honestly, but you hate it also.”
Although the pitch clock was tested and worked at the minor-league level, that doesn’t mean it’ll work in the big leagues.
“People are getting worn out,” Jansen said. “There is still a big difference between Triple-A and the major leagues.”
The pitch clock may be “working” but there should still be some room for adjustments, especially if the injuries continue to pile up.
“I think it’s a year of experiencing stuff for everybody to figure it out because you don’t know how you’re going to feel,” Jansen said. “You know how you feel right now, but you don’t know how you are going to feel in June, July, August and September. It’s a long season. It’s longer than Triple-A…
“I think we all learn. I hope MLB is learning from all of this to make the game better. We all want the game to be better. I just don’t want them to be stubborn just because you’re MLB and the rules are the rules. I hope they get feedback from the players…
“I think this is the year we all have to learn and not be stubborn about it and what can we do to be better. I’m not criticizing, but we should all learn. People want to feed their family. We’re going to die and this game will still be better … We don’t want guys blowing out because of something that is causing that. Hopefully, we all learn going forward.”
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