2022 Los Angeles Dodgers Player Reviews: Craig Kimbrel

When the Los Angeles Dodgers were unable to agree to terms with Kenley Jansen last offseason, they filled their void at closer by acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for AJ Pollock.

Kimbrel was coming off a disappointing end to his 2021 campaign but had the distinction of being the only active pitcher with more career saves than Jansen.

Unfortunately for Kimbrel, his struggles carried over into the 2022 season. Among qualified Dodgers relief pitchers, only Phil Bickford had a higher ERA (4.72) than Kimbrel’s 3.75 mark last year.

The 34-year-old finished the season 6-7 with 22 saves in 27 opportunities to go along with a 3.23 FIP and 1.32 WHIP. Of his 63 appearances, only 19 were clean innings.

Kimbrel was eventually removed from the closer role in September, and the Dodgers moved forward with relying on multiple pitchers to close out games. The eight-time All-Star was ultimately left off the playoff roster for the National League Division Series due to his inconsistency.

“It was a tough conversation,” Roberts said prior to Game 1 of the NLDS. “It’s a person and player I have so much respect for. It hasn’t been a consistent year for him. He accepted the role of getting out of the closer’s role as a professional and was hoping and looking forward to an opportunity here in the DS.

“We just have other guys that we felt had been more consistent and that match up with these guys better. Not to say that it can’t change. My expectation, our expectation, is that Craig will be ready. But we wouldn’t be here without him.

“I can’t say enough about the character of Craig Kimbrel because, as a potential Hall of Famer, that’s not an easy conversation. He was very disappointed, as he should be.”

Craig Kimbrel 2022 highlight

Despite losing his job in the ninth inning this past September, Kimbrel arguably was at his best during the month. He went 2-2 with a 2.51 ERA and 0.77 WHIP across 14.1 innings pitched, and held opponents to a .095 batting average (15 games).

2023 outlook

Kimbrel was among the Dodgers’ players who reached free agency at the start of the offseason, and he recently came off the board by reportedly signing a one-year, $10 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

What role Kimbrel has in the Phillies bullpen remains to be seen, but he previously expressed confidence in being able to close games again.

Are you following Dodger Blue on Instagram? It’s the best way to see exclusive coverage from games and events, get your questions answered, and more!