Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel has found new life or an old life depending on how you look at it
When the Red Sox had Jon Papelbon as the closer, it was like having to only pitch an eight inning game, because the 9th was a done deal. From 2006 until 2011 Pap saved 219 games, an average of 36.5 saves per season. We didn’t think it could get any better until Craig Kimbrel joined the bullpen in 2016. The Red Sox have never had a lock down pitcher quite like this, not even Papelbon was this good. It’s almost automatic in 2017.
Just how good is Kimbrel? Kimbrel had an immaculate inning last night striking out three batters on nine pitches. If you want to get technical, Kimbrel’s last 12 pitches were all strikes amounting to four strike outs. He had five in all and all went down swinging. The Red Sox quite simply don’t need to give 8 innings before their closer enters. He can pitch two innings if necessary and you can expect anywhere between four and six strike outs for a couple innings of work. So I ask again, how good is Craig Kimrel?
He strikes out two of three for every inning. I don’t remember the last closer to have an 17.81 K/9 Ratio over the course of 15 2/3 innings, Kimbrel has 31 strike outs. He’s allowed just two runs on six hits while also allowing just one walk and only home run. That’s filthy. He’s got high heat and a knuckle curve that makes opponents knees buckle. It’s almost unfair. CK is 4th on the team in strike outs behind Chris Sale with 73 duh, Rick Porcello with 45, Eduardo Rodriguez with 42, and Drew Pomeranz with 36.
With the season into May where starters have had six to seven opportunities, I find it unreal that the Sox closer is 5th on the team with strike outs. The Sox finally have the Kimbrel that the Braves had for several years. The Red Sox would be very smart to lock him up long term. If that’s the case, a 9 inning ballgame just turned into 8.
Little fun fact, Kimbrel’s immaculate inning against the Brewers was the third time in team history the feat had been accomplished. Pedro Martinez did it first against the Mariners and then Clay Buchholz did it against the Orioles.
Look for the Red Sox to release the Kimbrel against any team in any save opportunity with a 3-run lead or less. The Sox are hosting the Rays tonight and this weekend. Look for Kimbrel to get the K-Crew in the outfield working. If the Sox do bring out their 9th inning man, he’ll quickly have you at the dish and then like nothing, quietly have you taking your seat on the bench.
Photo Credit – Bob DeChiara – USA Today Sports