The Red Sox' new closer will have to pick up the pace in 2023 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Red Sox shored up the back of their bullpen by signing closer Kenley Jansen to a two-year contract on Wednesday. After going with a closer-by-committee approach in 2022, they now have a clear go-to option in the ninth inning.
Jansen's track record speaks for itself. The 35-year-old has three All-Star selections, a World Series title, and a two Reliever of the Year awards under his belt. Last season, he led the league in saves (41) while posting a 3.38 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
Tomase: Kenley Jansen signing is exactly what the Red Sox needed
Next year, however, the 13-year veteran will be forced to make a significant change to his game.
Major League Baseball is set to implement a pitch clock in 2023 as part of its pace-of-play initiative. Pitchers will have 15 seconds to throw a pitch with the bases empty and 20 seconds with a runner on base. Hitters will need to be in the batter's box with eight seconds on the pitch clock.
Jansen averaged a whopping 29.4 seconds between pitches last season, the third-longest amount of time among pitchers with at least 50 innings. He averaged 25.6 seconds with the bases empty and 31.4 seconds with runners on, per Baseball Savant.
In 2018, Jansen blasted MLB's proposed pace-of-play rule changes.
"That's ridiculous," Jansen said, per the Los Angeles Times. "Football is four hours, four and a half hours. The Super Bowl was five hours. Listen man, baseball fans are not going to stop watching the game because the game is too long. Let's stop that. I think that's ridiculous."
Ridiculous or not, it has become a reality. Jansen will have to adjust by cutting his time between pitches nearly in half.
For the sake of comparison, reliever Matt Barnes was the next-slowest pitcher on Boston's roster last season. He averaged 22.8 seconds between pitches with bases empty and 26.6 with runners on base. The Red Sox' other significant bullpen acquisition, Chris Martin, took 22.9 seconds with bases empty and and 25.9 with runners on.
Jansen is far from the only pitcher who will be forced to adapt. Still, it will be fascinating to see how such a significant change will impact him going forward.