You know what, it’s pretty obvious that Craig Kimbrel just doesn’t have it right now and who knows if he’ll ever get back to being a dominant reliever, but I’m going to give David Ross credit for moving on as soon as he appears to be.
It didn’t seem that way following Monday night’s disaster against the Reds for Kimbrel, as Ross claimed it just looked like some rust for the closer. However, following Friday night’s performance that featured the Pirates smoking every ball they hit off Kimbrel, Ross sounds like a manager who’s ready to move on to a new closer.
At least for now.
Whatever the reasons are for Kimbrel’s struggles, it’s really bad right now. Just look at this from Friday night.
Hitters are either spitting on his breaking pitches or gearing up and destroying Kimbrel’s fastballs.
Possibly tipping pitches? Let’s hope that’s the reason because otherwise we’re looking at a guy who’s supposed to be a shutdown closer suddenly being toast with the Cubs.
The most likely candidate to take over the closer role is right-hander Jeremy Jeffress. Although he hasn’t looked spectacular early on, at least he’s getting outs and not allowing a bunch of base runners. In his career, Jeffress has recorded 45 saves, including 27 in 2016 with the Brewers.
The shortened season and Kimbrel’s ineffectiveness going back to 2019, probably made this an easier decision for Ross, but it would have been very easy for him to lean on Kimbrel’s track record as an excuse to keep the veteran as the closer.
I’m glad that isn’t the case because we saw at the end of Joe Maddon’s tenure with the Cubs where some guys weren’t being held accountable.