Dodgers News: Craig Kimbrel Working To Get ‘Where I Need To Be’

Soon after Kenley Jansen signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers filled the void by trading AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox for Craig Kimbrel.

While Jansen resides as the Dodgers’ all-time saves leader, Kimbrel is the only active closer with more saves. His addition further bolstered an already-talented bullpen, but Kimbrel has pitched to mix results thus far.

He was limited during Spring Training and the Dodgers have largely eased the 34-year-old through the first two months of the season. Prior to their series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates, manager Dave Roberts acknowledged a need to ensure Kimbrel pitches more frequently.

He received an opportunity hours later, appearing on back-to-back days for only the third time this year. Kimbrel went on to allow two runs (one earned) in his first blown save of the season as the Pirates pulled out a 6-5 win.

“I was ahead in the count, so that was a little frustrating,” Kimbrel said of the walk. “I can’t throw a wild pitch and let him walk to second, give them an opportunity where a single gives them an opportunity to score a run.

“I’ll be the first one to tell you my last couple outings have been pretty bad. It’s something I’ve been able to work through and hasn’t really hurt the team because we’ve been up a couple runs. I haven’t really been like I should be, but I’m still battling and getting back to where I need to be.

“Not really worried that it’s going to happen at some point. There’s been one or two pitches that I’ve been getting beat on, but at the same time I’ve been hurting myself a lot too by walking guys, throwing wild pitches or hitting guys. Just little things that are giving them opportunities and they end up taking advantage of them.”

Kimbrel has allowed at least one hit or issued a walk in 13 of his 16 appearances.

“I’m not going to be perfect every time,” he said. “I’m not going to feel great every time I go out there, but I’ve still got to do my job even if I don’t feel great. Tonight wasn’t one of those nights. I’ll show up tomorrow, ask for the ball, and be ready to go.”

While Kimbrel expressed a willingness to pitch again Tuesday, the Dodgers are unlikely to call on him for a third consecutive appearance.

Roberts not worried about Kimbrel

Roberts certainly has plenty of experience in managing a closer attempting to push through some inconsistencies, and like he often did with Jansen, downplayed being worried about Kimbrel.

“I’m not concerned, but I do think there’s some things we’ve certainly got to clean up. In every outing there’s been some good breaking balls, some good throws with the fastball, and there’s been some ones that are not so good,” Roberts said.

“There’s some cues that I know he leans on to have the consistency of the throw. We’ve just got to keep working on it.”

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