Braves closer Kenley Jansen is always learning

Braves closer Kenley Jansen has a 3.25 ERA and his 18 saves rank third in baseball despite him, as of Sunday, not having pitched since June 12. (Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

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Braves closer Kenley Jansen has a 3.25 ERA and his 18 saves rank third in baseball despite him, as of Sunday, not having pitched since June 12. (Miguel Martinez / miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com)

CHICAGO — During a recent interview, Kenley Jansen brought up something Ken Howell – the late, great Dodgers reliever and coach – always told him.

“The day you stop learning,” Howell would say, “you should stop playing this game.”

Jansen lives by this lesson. He is 34 years old and is one of the game’s top closers. And while he acknowledges that he, 39-year-old Darren O’Day and 38-year-old Jesse Chavez are the bullpen’s “grandpas,” Jansen believes he can learn just as much from 23-year-old Spencer Strider and 27-year-old Dylan Lee.

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This never-ending appetite to learn has driven Jansen. Even as he’s racked up more than 360 saves, with tremendous ERAs to match, he is still a student of the game.

“The day that you think that you know everything about this game, you should stop playing it,” Jansen said before a game in Washington. “Just retire. I think in this game, you constantly will keep learning and learning and learning. Every day, you keep learning about this game, and that’s what I want to do, man. I just want to keep learning this game and motivate myself to be better and get better, continue to get better until the day I say it’s enough.”

One thing Jansen has found out in his career: You must stay within the day. “You learn a lot about that, honestly,” he said. The ups and downs teach this.

Just look at Jansen’s season, for example. He converted his first nine save opportunities. In that span, he allowed one earned run over 14 ⅔ innings. Then he blew three of his next six save chances.

But the big picture is positive. He has a 3.25 ERA and his 18 saves rank third in baseball despite him, as of Sunday, not having pitched since June 12.

“You got to really understand letting things go but feed off the good products that you put out there,” Jansen said. “But even the games that you save, it’s over with. Just feed from that momentum and bring that energy again to the next game, and that’s what it is. It’s just day by day. If my name gets called, feed from the energy, feed from the positive and learn from your mistakes. And have that short memory.

“My short memory is with everything. It’s with good, bad. You just got to come back. Today’s another day. Knowing what you did yesterday, but have that energy and momentum, and focus on today. That’s all I can care about.”

Jansen has been one of the game’s best closers for years but still has had his struggles. This is normal, and expected, for relievers. Earn enough save chances and you’ll blow some.

But Jansen believes he’s improved at taking the positive and gaining momentum despite any negative occurrences.

“I think the last couple of years, I think that, mentally, that I’m in such a better place and learning and understanding how my mind works,” Jansen said. “How someone’s mind works, I think, definitely makes you smarter and makes you know how you have to control things and go about things. Bad games, you learn from it, and good games, you feed off of it. You just don’t let it break you. You just got to continue to motivate yourself and become better. That’s what makes my career, I feel like, now even more fun and better because I’m understanding myself.”

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Happy Father’s Day

Braves manager Brian Snitker is a father of two. He has a son (Troy) and a daughter (Erin). Troy is one of the Astros’ hitting coaches.

Asked what the joy of fatherhood has meant to him, Snitker said this:

“It’s been awesome. I’m very proud of my children and their children, and it’s great. To watch my children and what they’ve done, and how dedicated they’ve been to their jobs and craft – my daughter raising her own family, and how impressed I am with how she handles all that. It’s been awesome. It’s the greatest joy in my life, my family.”

Unlucky Braves

Over the last couple days, you have likely heard and read a lot about some of the tough luck the Braves have gotten.

Well, over the series’ first two games, Atlanta hit 10 balls over 100 mph that resulted in outs. Overall, the Braves had five hits on 15 balls hit over 100 mph (a .333 batting average).

The Cubs, on the other hand, were 6-for-6 on balls hit over 100 mph in the first two games here.

Entering Sunday, the league batting average on balls hit over 100 mph was .573.

Phil Gosselin gets a start

Phil Gosselin on Sunday got his first start of the season. He played second base and hit eighth in place of Orlando Arcia.

He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Projected starters for the Giants series

These are the expected pitching matchups for the four games between the Giants and Braves at Truist Park this week.

  • Monday: Left-hander Max Fried versus right-hander Logan Webb
  • Tuesday: Right-hander Spencer Strider versus TBD
  • Wednesday: Right-hander Charlie Morton vs. left-hander Carlos Rodón
  • Thursday: Right-hander Kyle Wright vs. left-hander Alex Wood