Right before the 2022 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers traded AJ Pollock for Craig Kimbrel in a move that was confusing even at the time. Andrew Friedman rarely misses, though, so most fans blindly followed him into the Kimbrel experience expecting big things to happen.
It became obvious early on that the Kimbrel experience was not going to be a good one. The former all-star closer allowed a run in his first-ever appearance donning the Dodger blue and it never really got better from there.
Kimbrel carried a 4.35 ERA into the All-Star Break but it was not enough to get Dave Roberts and co. to waiver. A briefly successful stint with Kimbrel coming out to ‘Let it Go’ extended his life as a closer, but finally, thankfully, Roberts came to his senses.
Craig Kimbrel has officially been demoted from being the Dodgers closer.
The straw that finally broke the camel’s back was a home run from noted Dodger killer, Christian Walker. Walker slugged a solo home run in the top of the ninth on Thursday night and while Dodgers fans are usually cursing out Walker when he comes up with a big hit to hurt the team, this time they will be thanking them.
Not only did this home run effectively boot Kimbrel out of the ninth inning, but the Dodgers won the game on some heroics in the bottom of the ninth as well. It was a win-win for fans. Not only did they get to see a walk-off, but they got to see Roberts deliver the final blow to Kimbrel the next day.
It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers handle this committee in the ninth inning but one thing is for certain: the team has options. That is what made this patience with Kimbrel so frustrating. There have always been options.
If Kimbrel is not pitching in the ninth inning it is hard to see him even having a route to make the playoff roster. As drastic as that may seem, if Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol are healthy for October then Kimbrel is the odd-man out.
Roberts refused to comment on Kimbrel’s role in the postseason, which might be foreshadowing an uphill battle for no. 46 to make the roster.
He certainly does not deserve to make the postseason roster based on his performance. Outside of Phil Bickford, Kimbrel has been the worst consistent reliever in the bullpen all season. Heck, Reyes Moronta was better for the Dodgers when he was on the team before he was designated for assignment.
Ironically enough, Moronta was claimed by the Diamondbacks and was the losing pitcher in Kimbrel’s last ever game as the team’s designated closer. When in LA, Moronta sported a 4.18 ERA and 1.141 WHIP. Kimbrel now has a 4.14 ERA and 1.344 WHIP.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Andrew Friedman got just a little bit lucky when they wound up with Trayce Thompson carrying the show.
If that was not good enough for Moronta to be on the regular-season roster, how can the team justify keeping Kimbrel on the postseason roster? Not only is this a demotion from the ninth inning, but it should be a demotion from October as well.