1. Craig Kimbrel
There he is. The most frustrating Dodgers reliever since … Kenley Jansen! Welcome, Craig Kimbrel! Up until Aug. 21, Kimbrel had a target on his back. Dodgers fans couldn’t stand watching him come in for save situations because of how erratic he was.
But on Aug. 21, a reversal like you’ve never seen before occurred: Kimbrel changed his walkout song to “Let It Go” — the famous song from Disney’s “Frozen” — and he’s been unstoppable ever since. The right-hander has tossed six scoreless outings (five of which have featured no hits and no walks) and lowered his ERA (3.88), FIP (2.52) and WHIP (1.40).
Whether Kimbrel is closing or not come October, the Dodgers need him to be more like this than his late-2018 to first-half-2022 self. The only outlier over that span was Kimbrel’s first half of 2021. He was incredible, but then came crashing down to earth after being traded to the Chicago White Sox to become their setup man.
LA usually “figures it out” with the bullpen, but they can’t afford to have a high-leverage asset such as Kimbrel constantly crumble in big moments. When he’s on, he’s almost unhittable. When he’s off, he’s a piñata, and fans have seen the two tales all season long.
There’s a reason the Red Sox didn’t re-sign him after his erratic 2018 postseason (even though it resulted in a World Series triumph over the Dodgers). LA won’t have Boston this time around, but it’d be nice if they could show up the Sox by having Kimbrel help them be the last team standing.