Though it didn’t exactly come when Los Angeles Dodgers fans were expecting it, not many are going to oppose manager Dave Roberts leaving the door open for somebody else to close out games when the postseason arrives.
The Dodgers, after falling 4-0 to the Milwaukee Brewers in the series opener, captured the next two games to win the set by a combined score of 22-7. At no point were they sweating for a single moment. The offense kept the stress off the pitching staff and it was a grand time.
But prior to Wednesday night’s game, Roberts was asked about who would be closing games for the Dodgers come October. Previously, he’s been steadfast in his belief that Craig Kimbrel is the ninth-inning man and there wouldn’t be any deviation from that plan.
What’s confusing was Roberts never wavered even after Kimbrel blew countless games and made others a lot more stressful/difficult than they needed to be. He’s clearly not been fit for the closer role all year.
Time heals all wounds, though, and perhaps Roberts’ mood has changed as the summer has wound down. Though the skipper “hopes” it’s Kimbrel holding down the fort for LA in high-pressure situations, he can’t guarantee it.
Craig Kimbrel may not be the Dodgers’ closer when the postseason arrives
Kimbrel’s appeared in eight games this month and has given up a run in half of them. He’s recorded three saves, blown one, and made a grand total of five of his outings very difficult to watch. His first clean outing since July 13 came on Aug. 21 in a blowout win over the Miami Marlins.
Though the right-hander has a few stats/trends favoring him (2.59 FIP, 0.4 HR/9 and 56 strikeouts in 43.1 innings), he has a ghastly 4.36 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and 3.9 BB/9. It’s simply not sustainable for October baseball, and fans have been yelling this into a void for months.
Roberts hasn’t validated any of those very reasonable worries, however, until Aug. 24, 2022. Better late than never, we suppose!
The Dodgers have a number of other relievers on the mend as well, which could play a role in Roberts’ shifted philosophy. Blake Treinen, Tommy Kahnle and Victor Gonzalez are all on rehab stints at Triple-A Oklahoma City, which suggests their returns could be on the horizon over the next few weeks.
Throw in the sustained success of Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia and David Price as well as the return of Brusdar Graterol, and perhaps Roberts is just feeling more comfortable with a closer-by-committee situation with all the evidence he has laid out in front of him.
Whatever it is, Dodgers fans are just glad he finally came to his senses.