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Kenley Jansen Is Too Busy Helping The Dodgers Win To Get Saves

Dodger closer Kenley Jansen has had a lights-out first half with a 4-0 record, a 0.96 ERA, 57 strikeouts and just two walks allowed in 37.2 innings pitched.

He also has only 21 saves, which ranks seventh in the league through the All-Star break. But Jansen has been considerably more valuable to the Dodgers than those save numbers imply. That’s because Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has been deploying Jansen in high-leverage situations that other managers often shield their closers from. Jansen has made 10 multi-inning appearances so far this year. He’s been brought into the game with runners on base nine times. And he’s entered in tied games in eight appearances. l call all of these “firemen appearances” because they resemble how teams used their top relievers in the era a few decades ago when the best relievers were referred to as “firemen” instead of closers.

These firemen appearances have not necessarily helped Jansen earn saves; a pitcher can’t earn a save when he enters in a tied game, for instance. But they do provide opportunities for him to earn goose eggs, the new relief-pitcher statistic that we developed this spring. (The short version: A pitcher gets a goose egg for a clutch, scoreless relief inning, including in a tied game.) Jansen has 25 goose eggs, which ties him for third this season. He and his fellow goose-egg leaders — including the Pirates’ Felipe Rivero, who leads MLB with 27 — are routinely making firemen appearances:

Goose-egg leaders pitch in clutch situations, but that doesn’t help earn saves

Top goose-egg pitchers through 2017 All-Star break

FIREMAN APPEARANCES
PITCHER GOOSE EGGS SAVES MULTI-INNING RUNNERS ON TIE GAMES
Felipe Rivero 27 6 11 13 12
Corey Knebel 26 14 6 9 8
Kenley Jansen 25 21 10 8 9
Andrew Miller 25 2 14 12 8
Brad Hand 23 2 13 15 10
Alex Colome 23 25 9 10 5
Raisel Iglesias 21 16 10 6 5
Brad Brach 21 15 2 3 6
Edwin Diaz 21 13 6 6 8
Addison Reed 21 15 5 6 8

Source: Baseball-REFERENCE.COM

We shouldn’t get too carried away here. With the possible exception of the Astros’ Chris Devenski — who leads the majors with 52.2 relief innings but whose effectiveness has diminished as the season has worn on — none of these pitchers are being used in the Goose Gossage mold of the 1970s, when star relievers often threw 100 or more innings in a season. This is particularly true for Jansen, whose workload has always been managed carefully. (He’s on pace for only 68 innings this year.) But if teams are still using pitchers such as Jansen, Rivero and the Indians’ Andrew Miller for only 60 to 80 innings a season, they’re increasingly picking the right innings for them to pitch. By contrast, closers such as the Rockies’ Greg Holland and the Twins’ Brandon Kintzler have rarely made fireman appearances but have often been used to close out big, relatively safe leads. Although they have more saves than pitchers like Jansen and Rivero, Holland and Kintzler have fewer goose eggs and have provided less overall value to their clubs.

Save leaders avoid many clutch pitching opportunities

Top save pitchers through 2017 All-Star break

FIREMAN APPEARANCES
PITCHER GOOSE EGGS SAVES MULTI-INNING RUNNERS ON TIE GAMES
Greg Hollland 18 28 1 4 1
Alex Colome 23 25 9 10 5
Brandon Kintzler 19 24 2 2 2
Craig Kimbrel 19 23 5 6 6
Roberto Osuna 16 22 0 3 3
Fernando Rodney 19 22 0 3 5
Kenley Jansen 25 21 10 8 9
Ken Giles 9 19 1 5 1
Jim Johnson 17 19 2 0 6
Kelvin Herrera 16 19 0 2 5
Brandon Maurer 15 19 2 4 6

Source: Baseball-REFERENCE.COM

The Dodgers have managed Jansen’s opportunities smartly, but he also deserves credit for making the most of every one of them — literally. Jansen has 25 goose eggs on the season, but no broken eggs, our term for when a pitcher enters the game with an opportunity to earn a goose egg but is charged with at least one earned run instead.1 The record for most goose eggs in a season without a broken egg is held by Brad Lidge, who had 34 goose eggs and no broken eggs in 2008.

As a result of this perfect conversion rate, Jansen leads baseball with 3.6 goose wins above replacement (GWAR) and is on pace for 6.5 GWAR, which would make for one of the top half-dozen relief pitching seasons of all time. Rivero and Miller are second and third in GWAR this season. You can find goose-egg statistics for these and all other relief pitchers in the sortable table below.

2017 goose stats through All-Star break

PITCHER
TEAM
GOOSE EGGS
BROKEN EGGS
MEHS
GWAR
Felipe Rivero PIT 27 2 2 +3.2
Corey Knebel MIL 26 5 2 +2.0
Kenley Jansen LAD 25 0 1 +3.6
Andrew Miller CLE 25 3 1 +3.0
Brad Hand SD 23 4 5 +1.8
Alex Colome TB 23 5 2 +1.7
Raisel Iglesias CIN 21 1 0 +2.7
Brad Brach BAL 21 3 0 +2.2
Edwin Diaz SEA 21 4 1 +1.7
Addison Reed NYM 21 4 3 +1.5
Archie Bradley ARI 20 2 3 +2.3
Craig Kimbrel BOS 19 2 0 +2.3
Brandon Kintzler MIN 19 3 2 +1.8
Michael Lorenzen CIN 19 3 1 +1.7
Joakim Soria KC 19 4 2 +1.5
Justin Wilson DET 19 4 0 +1.5
Fernando Rodney ARI 19 4 3 +1.4
Seung-hwan Oh STL 19 4 4 +1.3
Greg Holland COL 18 2 0 +2.2
Jacob Barnes MIL 18 4 3 +1.2
Jim Johnson ATL 17 6 1 +0.3
Pat Neshek PHI 16 1 3 +2.0
Mike Minor KC 16 2 1 +1.8
David Robertson CHW 16 3 1 +1.3
Will Harris HOU 16 3 0 +1.3
Kelvin Herrera KC 16 4 2 +1.1
Roberto Osuna TOR 16 4 1 +1.1
Arodys Vizcaino ATL 16 5 2 +0.5
Chris Devenski HOU 16 6 3 +0.2
Tony Watson PIT 16 6 4 +0.1
Trevor Rosenthal STL 16 6 1 +0.1
Wade Davis CHC 15 0 1 +2.2
Hector Neris PHI 15 4 2 +0.7
Matthew Bowman STL 15 4 4 +0.7
Matt Bush TEX 15 6 1 +0.2
Brandon Maurer SD 15 7 0 -0.5
Joe Smith TOR 14 1 1 +1.8
Ryan Tepera TOR 14 2 0 +1.5
Koji Uehara CHC 14 4 3 +0.5
Santiago Casilla OAK 14 5 2 +0.3
Taylor Rogers MIN 13 2 3 +1.3
Brett Cecil STL 13 2 2 +1.1
Matt Belisle MIN 13 3 3 +0.9
Enny Romero WSH 13 3 6 +0.8
Dellin Betances NYY 13 4 1 +0.6
Adam Ottavino COL 13 7 2 -0.4
Joaquin Benoit PHI 13 7 0 -0.7
Nick Vincent SEA 12 1 4 +1.5
Mike Montgomery CHC 12 1 1 +1.4
Mychal Givens BAL 12 2 3 +1.2
Ryan Madson OAK 12 3 1 +0.7
Carl Edwards CHC 12 3 3 +0.6
Cody Allen CLE 12 4 2 +0.5
Jose Ramirez ATL 12 4 1 +0.3
Jerry Blevins NYM 12 4 6 +0.2
Ryan Buchter SD 12 5 2 -0.1
Sam Dyson TEX/SF 12 7 1 -0.8
Pedro Strop CHC 11 1 3 +1.2
Bryan Shaw CLE 11 2 2 +1.1
Derek Law SF 11 3 1 +0.5
Hunter Strickland SF 11 3 0 +0.5
AJ Ramos MIA 11 3 2 +0.4
Bud Norris LAA 11 6 0 -0.5
Tommy Kahnle CHW 11 7 1 -0.9
David Phelps MIA 11 7 1 -1.1
Anthony Swarzak CHW 10 0 0 +1.5
Yusmeiro Petit LAA 10 1 2 +1.2
Wandy Peralta CIN 10 2 0 +0.7
Shane Greene DET 10 3 3 +0.4
Blake Parker LAA 10 3 1 +0.4
Kyle Barraclough MIA 10 3 1 +0.3
Jorge De La Rosa ARI 10 4 1 +0.1
Matt Barnes BOS 10 5 3 -0.2
Alex Wilson DET 10 6 4 -0.7
James Pazos SEA 9 2 4 +0.6
Matt Albers WSH 9 2 4 +0.6
Ken Giles HOU 9 3 3 +0.2
Mark Melancon SF 9 4 0 -0.2
Tyler Duffey MIN 8 1 1 +0.9
David Hernandez LAA 8 1 1 +0.9
Jared Hughes MIL 8 1 1 +0.8
Kevin Siegrist STL 8 1 1 +0.8
Chris Rusin COL 8 2 3 +0.6
Sean Doolittle OAK 8 2 3 +0.5
Koda Glover WSH 8 2 2 +0.4
Jake McGee COL 8 3 2 +0.2
Keone Kela TEX 8 3 1 +0.2
Darren O’Day BAL 8 3 2 +0.2
Danny Farquhar TB 8 3 2 +0.1
Juan Nicasio PIT 8 4 6 -0.3
Neftali Feliz MIL 8 5 0 -0.7
Erasmo Ramirez TB 7 1 2 +0.7
Heath Hembree BOS 7 2 4 +0.4
Joe Kelly BOS 7 2 4 +0.4
Deolis Guerra LAA 7 2 0 +0.3
Jeanmar Gomez PHI 7 2 1 +0.3
Josh Smoker NYM 7 2 2 +0.3
Cory Gearrin SF 7 2 1 +0.3
Hector Rondon CHC 7 2 1 +0.3
Liam Hendriks OAK 7 3 1 +0.0
Pedro Baez LAD 7 3 4 -0.1
Jose Alvarado TB 7 4 3 -0.4
George Kontos SF 7 4 3 -0.5
Mike Dunn COL 6 0 2 +1.0
Aroldis Chapman NYY 6 0 2 +1.0
Zach Britton BAL 6 0 0 +0.9
Scott Oberg COL 6 1 3 +0.6
Cam Bedrosian LAA 6 1 3 +0.5
Luis Garcia PHI 6 1 1 +0.5
Nick Wittgren MIA 6 1 1 +0.5
Alex Claudio TEX 6 2 5 +0.2
Chasen Shreve NYY 6 2 2 +0.2
Danny Barnes TOR 6 2 1 +0.2
Tommy Hunter TB 6 2 1 +0.2
J. J. Hoover ARI 6 2 2 +0.2
Ian Krol ATL 6 2 3 +0.1
Shawn Kelley WSH 6 2 0 +0.1
Tony Barnette TEX 6 3 0 -0.1
Luke Gregerson HOU 6 3 2 -0.2
Steven Okert SF 6 3 7 -0.3
Chase Whitley TB 6 4 1 -0.6
Jumbo Diaz TB 6 4 3 -0.6
Carlos Torres MIL 6 4 2 -0.6
Ross Stripling LAD 6 4 1 -0.6
Fernando Abad BOS 5 0 0 +0.8
Randall Delgado ARI 5 0 0 +0.8
T. J. McFarland ARI 5 0 1 +0.8
Sam Freeman ATL 5 0 2 +0.7
Oliver Perez WSH 5 1 4 +0.4
Jose Leclerc TEX 5 2 2 +0.1
Adam Warren NYY 5 2 1 +0.1
Joely Rodriguez PHI 5 2 4 +0.0
Jacob Turner WSH 5 2 0 +0.0
Josh Edgin NYM 5 2 5 +0.0
Jose Alvarez LAA 5 5 3 -1.1
Fernando Salas NYM 5 5 4 -1.2
Peter Moylan KC 4 0 3 +0.6
Logan Verrett BAL 4 0 0 +0.6
Marc Rzepczynski SEA 4 0 4 +0.6
Nate Jones CHW 4 1 0 +0.2
Jeurys Familia NYM 4 1 2 +0.2
Brad Ziegler MIA 4 1 2 +0.2
Ryan Pressly MIN 4 2 0 -0.1
Ryan Dull OAK 4 2 2 -0.1
Oliver Drake MIL 4 2 1 -0.2
Tony Cingrani CIN 4 2 3 -0.2
Hansel Robles NYM 4 2 2 -0.2
Joe Biagini TOR 4 3 2 -0.5
Tony Zych SEA 4 3 2 -0.5
Daniel Hudson PIT 4 4 4 -0.9
Blake Treinen WSH 4 4 1 -0.9
Tyler Clippard NYY 4 8 6 -2.3
Austin Pruitt TB 3 0 0 +0.5
Austin Brice CIN 3 0 0 +0.4
Bryan Morris SF 3 0 0 +0.4
Brian Duensing CHC 3 0 0 +0.4
Alex Wood LAD 3 0 1 +0.4
Blaine Boyer BOS 3 1 0 +0.1
Jonathan Holder NYY 3 1 1 +0.1
Richard Bleier BAL 3 1 1 +0.1
Donnie Hart BAL 3 1 3 +0.1
Alec Asher BAL 3 1 1 +0.1
Scott Alexander KC 3 2 0 -0.3
Aaron Loup TOR 3 2 6 -0.3
Dominic Leone TOR 3 2 3 -0.3
Drew Storen CIN 3 2 2 -0.3
Casey Fien SEA/PHI 3 2 0 -0.3
Jhan Marinez MIL/PIT 3 2 0 -0.3
Kirby Yates LAA/SD 3 2 1 -0.3
Joe Blanton WSH 3 2 0 -0.3
Sam Tuivailala STL 3 2 0 -0.3
Josh Fields LAD 3 2 1 -0.3
Travis Wood KC 3 3 1 -0.6
Jason Grilli TOR 3 3 2 -0.6
Dan Altavilla SEA 3 3 1 -0.6
Francisco Rodriguez DET 3 8 2 -2.5
Dario Alvarez TEX 2 0 1 +0.3
Zach Putnam CHW 2 0 0 +0.3
Justin Grimm CHC 2 0 1 +0.3
Brock Stewart LAD 2 0 0 +0.3
Dustin McGowan MIA 2 0 1 +0.3
Jordan Lyles COL 2 1 0 +0.0
Chad Qualls COL 2 1 0 +0.0
Daniel Stumpf DET 2 1 2 -0.1
Bruce Rondon DET 2 1 0 -0.1
Kyle Ryan DET 2 1 0 -0.1
Steve Cishek SEA 2 1 1 -0.1
Kenyan Middleton LAA 2 1 0 -0.1
Eric O’Flaherty ATL 2 1 1 -0.1
Jason Motte ATL 2 1 2 -0.1
Phil Maton SD 2 1 1 -0.1
Robert Gsellman NYM 2 1 0 -0.1
Robby Scott BOS 2 2 8 -0.4
Robert Stephenson CIN 2 2 0 -0.4
Josh Osich SF 2 2 4 -0.5
Junichi Tazawa MIA 2 2 0 -0.5
Luis Avilan LAD 2 2 2 -0.5
Matt Strahm KC 2 3 1 -0.8
Blake Wood CIN 2 3 1 -0.8
Jose Torres SD 2 3 1 -0.8
Sergio Romo LAD 2 3 0 -0.8
Edubray Ramos PHI 2 11 0 -3.8
Ben Taylor BOS 1 0 1 +0.2
Robbie Ross BOS 1 0 0 +0.2
Carlos Estevez COL 1 0 0 +0.2
Tanner Scheppers TEX 1 0 1 +0.2
Chris Young KC 1 0 0 +0.2
Jake Junis KC 1 0 0 +0.2
Miguel Castro BAL 1 0 1 +0.2
Jeff Beliveau TOR 1 0 0 +0.2
Brad Boxberger TB 1 0 0 +0.2
Jean Machi SEA 1 0 1 +0.2
Brooks Pounders LAA 1 0 0 +0.2
Mike Morin LAA 1 0 1 +0.2
Tony Sipp HOU 1 0 0 +0.2
Brad Peacock HOU 1 0 1 +0.2
Asher Wojciechowski CIN 1 0 0 +0.1
Josh Hader MIL 1 0 0 +0.1
Luke Jackson ATL 1 0 0 +0.1
Miguel Socolovich STL 1 0 1 +0.1
Ty Blach SF 1 0 1 +0.1
Tyler Wilson BAL 1 1 1 -0.2
Justin Haley MIN 1 1 0 -0.2
Emilio Pagan SEA 1 1 0 -0.2
Tom Wilhelmsen ARI 1 1 2 -0.2
Frankie Montas OAK 1 1 0 -0.2
James Hoyt HOU 1 1 0 -0.2
Michael Feliz HOU 1 1 0 -0.2
Rob Scahill MIL 1 1 0 -0.2
Matt Grace WSH 1 1 2 -0.2
Kevin Quackenbush SD 1 1 0 -0.2
Grant Dayton LAD 1 1 2 -0.2
Blaine Hardy DET 1 2 1 -0.6
Daniel Coulombe OAK 1 2 3 -0.6
John Axford OAK 1 2 0 -0.6
Wily Peralta MIL 1 2 0 -0.6
Sammy Solis WSH 1 2 0 -0.6
Jonathan Broxton STL 1 2 0 -0.6
Paul Sewald NYM 1 2 2 -0.6
Chris Hatcher LAD 1 2 1 -0.6
Jeremy Jeffress TEX 1 3 1 -0.9
Wade LeBlanc PIT 1 3 2 -1.0
Rafael Montero NYM 1 3 1 -1.0
Andrew Chafin ARI 1 4 6 -1.3
John Brebbia STL 0 0 1 +0.0
Brent Suter MIL 0 0 1 +0.0
Boone Logan CLE 0 0 3 +0.0
Ben Heller NYY 0 0 1 +0.0
Chris Beck CHW 0 0 2 +0.0
Jarlin Garcia MIA 0 0 2 +0.0
Gabriel Ynoa BAL 0 0 1 +0.0
Jake Petricka CHW 0 0 1 +0.0
Parker Bridwell LAA 0 0 1 +0.0
Chad Bell DET 0 0 1 +0.0
Ernesto Frieri TEX 0 1 0 -0.4
Giovanny Gallegos NYY 0 1 0 -0.4
Ronald Herrera NYY 0 1 0 -0.4
Domingo German NYY 0 1 0 -0.4
Bryan Mitchell NYY 0 1 0 -0.4
Al Alburquerque KC 0 1 0 -0.4
Stefan Crichton BAL 0 1 0 -0.4
Casey Lawrence TOR 0 1 0 -0.4
J. P. Howell TOR 0 1 0 -0.4
Vidal Nuno BAL 0 1 0 -0.4
Jayson Aquino BAL 0 1 0 -0.4
Craig Breslow MIN 0 1 0 -0.4
Hector Santiago MIN 0 1 0 -0.4
Warwick Saupold DET 0 1 2 -0.4
Chase De Jong SEA 0 1 0 -0.4
Ryne Stanek TB 0 1 3 -0.4
Diego Moreno TB 0 1 0 -0.4
Xavier Cedeno TB 0 1 3 -0.4
Jesse Chavez LAA 0 1 0 -0.4
Adam Kolarek TB 0 1 0 -0.4
Rubby De La Rosa ARI 0 1 1 -0.4
Jandel Gustave HOU 0 1 0 -0.4
Johnny Barbato PIT 0 1 0 -0.4
Antonio Bastardo PIT 0 1 0 -0.4
Tyler Pill NYM 0 1 0 -0.4
Miguel Diaz SD 0 1 0 -0.4
Neil Ramirez NYM 0 1 2 -0.4
Tyler Lyons STL 0 1 1 -0.4
Adam Conley MIA 0 1 0 -0.4
Brandon Morrow LAD 0 1 0 -0.4
Drew Steckenrider MIA 0 1 0 -0.4
Chad Green NYY 0 2 2 -0.7
J. C. Ramirez LAA 0 2 0 -0.7
Evan Scribner SEA 0 2 0 -0.7
Dan Jennings CHW 0 2 4 -0.7
Josh Collmenter ATL 0 2 0 -0.7
Ryan Garton TB 0 3 0 -1.1

Source: Seamheads.com

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Footnotes

  1. Jansen does have one “meh,” which is when a pitcher enters the game in a goose situation but is awarded neither a goose egg nor a broken egg because a run was scored yet not charged to the reliever.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.

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