Roberto Osuna of the Blue Jays and Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers, who finished the month tied for the longest active save streaks in Major League Baseball at 18 in a row, were named The Hartford American League and National League Relievers of the Month for June, respectively. The awards were announced on Monday by MLB.
Osuna's 19th save on June 21 against Texas was historic, because he became the youngest pitcher (age 22) to reach 75 career saves. It also marked his 18th consecutive successful save conversion, tying for fifth-longest by a Blue Jay and tying for third-longest in a single season (behind Tom Henke's 25 in 1991 and Billy Koch's 21 in 2000). But that led to a development that makes this honor seem even more remarkable.
On June 23, a mental health issue prevented him from pitching in a save situation, and Osuna told media the next day that he was struggling with anxiety. Osuna told Toronto manager John Gibbons on June 25 that he felt well enough to pitch, and he returned in peak form -- striking out the side in consecutive appearances.
"Every time I go out there, I have fun. That's what I like to do every day, is be on the mound and pitch," said Osuna, who has received widespread support on social media. "It's slowly getting better. But I'm getting better. And that's a good thing for me."
Jansen was a perfect 10-for-10 in save situations with two wins over his 12 June appearances for the Dodgers. His 17th save of 2017 came along with his first career RBI (on a double) on June 25, securing the Dodgers' 10th consecutive victory in a big game against Colorado and pushing them out in front of the tight NL West pack.
In that same June 25 victory over the Rockies, Jansen walked Nolan Arenado on a full count. That was noteworthy because it followed an MLB-record stretch of 51 strikeouts without allowing a base on balls. Jansen has thrown his cutter a Mariano Rivera-like 92 percent of the time, according to Statcast™, and batters are hitting only .159 against it.
"I wanted to be here," Jansen told the Los Angeles Times last week, referring to his decision to turn down a Nationals offer and re-sign with Los Angeles as a free agent. "I didn't feel I could take this uniform off yet. This organization means a lot to me. They gave me my first chance. They gave me my second chance. We've been through all this stuff together. My dream is to win a championship here."
The award is an extension of MLB's partnership with The Hartford, which annually presents the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year and Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year awards. The winners are determined by a panel of industry experts.