In looking to fill their void at closer after Kenley Jansen signed with the Atlanta Braves, the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a trade with Chicago White Sox to acquire Craig Kimbrel in exchange for AJ Pollock.
Kimbrel joined the Dodgers as the only active pitcher with more career saves than Jansen, who of course left as the franchise leader in that category. However, Kimbrel’s first season with the club has been mired by inconsistency.
His latest stumble came Tuesday against the Milwaukee Brewers in a fourth blown save of the season. Kimbrel did bounce back to convert a save the following night, though not without again needing to pitch through some traffic.
Although Dodgers manager Dave Roberts remains confident in Kimbrel, he wants to see improved efficiency rather than a focus on strikeouts, via SportsNet LA:
“I think that I’ve shown continued confidence in him, which I will continue to do. But, I think he’s being too fine at times and I think he has the ability to be more efficient. I think sometimes, to be quite honest, I think he’s chasing the strikeout instead of chasing outs. I just want to see consistent outs.
“When you’re throwing 19 pitches an inning, it just takes away from your utility. … He’s getting strike one, then he starts to be too fine. And then when the hitter gets back in the count, you can’t be fine anymore. So now you’re getting pitches that are spoiled. We want outs. I don’t care how they come.”
Kimbrel’s 4.46 ERA is on track to be the second-highest mark of his career, and a 28.7% strikeout rate would be the lowest. Of his 45 appearances this season, only eight have been clean innings.
Kimbrel has at times been hurt by soft contact, but acknowledged that still becomes problematic when also giving up additional hits.
Craig Kimbrel vows to improve as Dodgers closer
While admitting he’s battled himself throughout 2022, the 34-year-old expressed a belief there have been recent improvements and vowed to get on track as Dodgers closer as the postseason nears.
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