The Dodgers have a problem. And his name is Craig Kimbrel.
After the magic of ‘Let It Go’ led to nine straight scoreless appearances, the old Kimbrel is back — just in time for the postseason.
After serving up a go-ahead home run in the 9th inning of Thursday night’s game, and then being saved by the Dodger bats in the bottom half of it, Kimbrel has now allowed five runs over his last four appearances. Four of them have come via the long ball.
Craig Kimbrel may have just lost his spot on the postseason roster. That’s the one thing you can’t do.
— Noah Camras (@noahcamras) September 23, 2022
As a reliever in the postseason, home runs are the one cardinal sin. If you serve up a postseason home run, there’s a good chance you’re not coming back out for another appearance.
Dave Roberts, who has defended Kimbrel all season long, was asked about his closer’s recent struggles.
“The stuff is starting to slide a little bit,” Roberts said. “The fastball velocity. I’ve just got to continue to look at this. We’ve got to have our best guys at the back end. I’ll continue to think through it.”
For the first time all season, Roberts finally sounded unsure about his closer. For Dodger fans who have been calling for a new closer all season long, last night may have been the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.
“The ninth inning is unlike any other inning,” Roberts said. “Having guys that finish games for us is a good thing. It’s something that I’m going to think through and figure out what’s best for the ballclub.”
The difficult question that Roberts will have to answer is who ends up closing games in October.
My guess is there’s no true closer in the playoffs, and Roberts goes strictly matchup based in a closer-by-committee-role.
But one thing is probably certain at this point:
We won’t be seeing Craig Kimbrel in the 9th inning of a one-run game in October, and that’s at least good news for Dodger fans.
Who do you think is going to close games in the postseason? Do you think Kimbrel deserves to be on the postseason roster? Let us know in the comments below!