Dodgers News: Craig Kimbrel ‘Battling’ Himself But Vows To Improve

Craig Kimbrel has dealt with a mixed bag of results in his first season with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and those recurring issues popped up during an appearance against the Milwaukee Brewers in the 11th inning on Tuesday.

After being brought in to protect a 4-3 lead, Kimbrel immediately surrendered a bunt single to leadoff hitter Hunter Renfroe, which put runners on the corners. Kimbrel followed that up with a strikeout and a walk to load the bases. Victor Caratini then dropped in a two-run single to give the Brewers a walk-off win and Kimbrel a fourth blown save.

Keeping with a common theme for Kimbrel this year, the final swing was a 72 mph blooper that if not for a terrific read by Renfroe, likely doesn’t score the winning run.

A multitude of factors have played into Kimbrel’s struggles, and he specifically highlighted allowing too many hits but maintains confidence in himself despite the results and vowed improvement would come, via SportsNetLA:

“Hits. I have walked some guys, but not tremendously bad. I’ve been giving up hits. You give up a couple soft ones, and hard ones hurt you. … It’s frustrating. It’s tremendously frustrating. This whole year, really, I feel like I’ve been battling. Not necessarily the other team, but myself. Recently, I felt like I’ve made some good strides in the right direction.

“My fastball has been jumping, my breaking ball was actually really good [Tuesday]. Just haven’t put it all together. Not to say I won’t, because I definitely will. It’s coming. I just think the last 40-something innings has been very frustrating, and it’s time for me to turn it around. And I’m going to.”

Kimbrel has allowed the highest percentage of weak contact in his career thus far in 2022, but his hard-hit rate is the second-highest he’s ever had. Manager Dave Roberts and the Dodgers have expressed trust in Kimbrel in the past, but with Blake Treinen on the mend and close to rejoining the team, a change at closer could eventually arrive.

Craig Kimbrel’s bad luck streak

Kimbrel’s numbers beyond a 4.46 ERA suggest he is better than his results, as his 2.48 FIP ranks 20th in baseball and among some of the sport’s best relief pitchers. Much of his problems arise when Kimbrel gets into hitter’s counts and they’re able to put the ball into play.

Kimbrel’s heat map for both four-seam fastball and curveball have incredibly predictable characteristics and the former has found too much of the plate, allowing hitters to amass a .500 slugging percentage against it.

Kimbrel did bounce back on Wednesday, stranding a soft single and two-out walk to convert his first save with a one-run lead in five opportunities.

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