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Dodgers: Doc Not Backing Down on Using Craig Kimbrel as Closer



The only thing that could spoil a beautiful, sun-drenched Father’s Day at Dodger Stadium is a gut punch of a loss. That’s exactly what fans and fathers alike received on Sunday afternoon. A throwing error by Cleveland second baseman Andres Gimenez handed LA a 3-2 lead in the seventh. The Guardians evened things up in the eighth which set up closer Craig Kimbrel taking the ball with the game tied in the ninth.

Kimbrel struck out the first batter, but then yielded a single and a double. LA then elected to intentionally load the bases. Another single gave Cleveland a 4-3 lead, with a subsequent sacrifice fly pushing the visitor’s lead to 5-3. The Dodgers failed to scratch together any runs, resulting in a rubber match loss.

It was the type of Kimbrel performance that has plenty of Dodgers fans questioning the 34-year-old eight-time All-Star’s capabilities. 

Dave Roberts does not share their perspective on the Dodgers new closer. After the game, Doc was was asked about LA designating a new closer (quotes via MLB’s Juan Toribio).

“I think we’re a ways from that point. Obviously, we’ve used [Daniel] Hudson, [Evan] Phillips and [Brusdar] Graterol in different roles. But as far as specifically the closer, Craig is our closer.”

Kimbrel lamented that he’s not giving up a ton of extra-base hits, but noted that he’s control has been an issue.

“I’m not necessarily giving up a lot of hard-hit balls. But when you’re walking guys and then giving up singles or balls that aren’t hit so hard they’re going to score. Seems like I’ve had quite a few outings where that’s happened.”

Based on FanGraphs average exit velocity among MLB relievers (min. 20 IP), hitters are averaging 88.5 MPH off of Kimbrel. That number ranks 93rd among 184 qualified pitchers. This writer barely passed his statistics class in college, but that translates to the Dodgers closer being average at best in that category. 

Which adds up. So far, Kimbrel has been average. At best.

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