Craig Kimbrel effectively ruining Phillies season validates Dodgers fans' fury

Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four
Championship Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Four / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Craig Kimbrel was one of the most agonizing everyday players Los Angeles Dodgers fans were subjected to watch for the duration of the 2022 season. Everyone thought the deed was done when he was left off the postseason roster, but the Dodgers failed anyway. Double whammy.

At that point, AJ Pollock, whom the Dodgers traded Kimbrel for, was looking like a pretty valuable bench piece LA had been missing even though the veteran wasn't exactly having a good year with the Chicago White Sox. He was utilized much differently in Chicago, which likely explains that.

The 2022 Dodgers won 111 games and flamed out of the postseason because their offense disappeared, so Kimbrel didn't really play a factor in the elimination, but his mere existence on the roster for the entirety of the campaign provided nothing but stress and angst.

His numbers may not have appeared that bad (3.75 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 1.32 WHIP, 22 saves and 72 Ks), but you can believe Dodgers fans when they tell you that everything he achieved was while walking a tightrope and by the skin of his teeth.

That's why when he signed a $10 million contract to be the Philadelphia Phillies closer for the 2023 season, Dodgers fans couldn't believe it. Did Dave Dombrowski not just watched what they experienced? How did he think this was one of the missing pieces in the Phillies' bullpen?

Well, the Phils learned the hard way. Though their offense is partially to blame for going silent in Games 3, 6 and 7, Kimbrel is directly to blame for Games 3 and 4.

Craig Kimbrel effectively ruining Phillies season validates Dodgers fans' fury

In Game 3, the right-hander was brought in to keep the game tied in the ninth. He allowed the walk-off hit to Ketel Marte after loading the bases on a hit and two walks. The most glaring offense here? He couldn't handle the bottom of the D-backs order. Marte is the leadoff hitter.

Then, the next night in Game 4, and perhaps this is manager Rob Thomson's fault, Kimbrel was called upon again to preserve a two-run lead in the bottom of the eighth. The result? He allowed three earned runs on three hits, including the game-tying blast to Alek Thomas. Kimbrel got the second out after the homer, then gave up a single and hit a batter before Thomson went back to the bullpen, but it was too late. Jose Alvarado surrendered an RBI single (charged to Kimbrel) and that was the game.

The more concerning issue for the Phillies was the fact they scored just 14 runs in the final five games of this series and lost four of those five. But the 15 they plated in the first two games gave the pitching staff enough cushion to handle high-pressure outings for the remainder of the NLCS.

Kimbrel was asked to handle three of them over seven games. He failed spectacularly twice. And Dodgers fans are once again wondering how there isn't someone better than the rapidly declining 14-year veteran to take on these duties for a contender.

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