Craig Kimbrel Remaining Dodgers Closer In Postseason Will Depend On ‘Performance’

Craig Kimbrel’s first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers has been mired by inconsistency, and that was perfectly captured during the team’s recent series against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field.

Kimbrel blew his fourth save of the season in the second of a four-game set before bouncing back to convert a save the following night.

The right-hander has made 51 appearances this year, but only 13 have been clean innings. Kimbrel’s 3.38 ERA is on track to be the third-highest mark of his career, and a 28.7% strikeout rate would be the lowest.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts nonetheless has expressed confidence in Kimbrel remaining the team’s closer. “My expectation, my hope is it’s Craig,” answered Roberts when recently asked who would be the Dodgers’ closer in the postseason.

“But like I said, it should be a meritocracy. It should be about performance. I do believe that if he’s closing games, we’re better for it.”

While Kimbrel’s overall numbers are troubling on the surface, his 2.52 FIP and 11.5 strikeouts per nine innings suggest he has pitched better than results indicate.

There have been multiple stretches over the past month where three days pass without Kimbrel making an appearance, but the Dodgers remain committed to a plan of having him pitch regularly.

“Clearly we’re going with the approach of trying to get him consistent work,” Roberts said. “He’s a guy that’s closed many games and the biggest of leverage. My talks with him, it’s more of just getting consistently out there so you get the feel. And when it gets to a save situation, then he can fall back on what he’s been doing.

“As opposed to picking save spots in particular and only using them in those situations. We’ve got his buy in.”

Craig Kimbrel pitching well with “Let It Go”

Kimbrel has improved of late and it coincides with changing to “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel for Disney’s “Frozen” as his new entrance song.

The pick was a joint effort between Kimbrel’s wife and daughter when the Dodgers asked significant others to select walkup songs as part of celebrating Women’s Day at Dodger Stadium.

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