Dodgers News: Craig Kimbrel Focused On Throwing Curveball

The Los Angeles Dodgers addressed a significant question mark in their bullpen by trading AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox for Craig Kimbrel. The right-hander filled the void at closer that was left by Kenley Jansen signing a one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves.

Kimbrel made his Dodgers debut in an Opening Day matchup with the Colorado Rockies, allowing a pair of doubles and one run. He followed that by converting saves against the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves, then worked a scoreless appearance to finish a game with the San Diego Padres.

Kimbrel is looking to return to his dominant form after a disappointing stint with the White Sox that saw him go 2-2 with one save, a 5.09 ERA, 4.56 FIP and 1.22 WHIP over 24 games.

The 33-year-old believes being able to throw his curveball for strikes early in the count will help him get back to that level, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:

“If I can at least get one in there for a strike and show them that I’ll attack in the zone and it’s not all gonna be out of the zone, it changes the at-bat and approach,” Kimbrel said. “It changes everything.”

Kimbrel’s breaking ball was a big part of his arsenal last season as he threw it a career-high 40.7% of the time. His ability to locate it consistently — especially early in the count — will be key to how much success he will enjoy with the Dodgers.

Kimbrel went a combined 4-5 with 24 saves and a 2.26 ERA for the Chicago Cubs and White Sox last season. He earned an eighth career All-Star Game selection and posted a 42.6% strikeout rate that was third-best in the Majors.

Kimbrel is ninth on the MLB all-time saves leaders list with 375. That has him ahead of Jansen, who is ranked 13th all-time with 355 career saves. Jansen is the Dodgers’ all-time saves leader.

Kimbrel hopes pitching as Dodgers closer will yield better results

Part of Kimbrel’s with the White Sox stemmed from being moved to a setup role. He hopes returning to the ninth inning with the Dodgers will help him become a dominant reliever again.

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