Red Sox: Craig Kimbrel continues to make the case for best closer of all time

The Boston Red Sox closer situation hasn’t ever looked this good – Craig Kimbrel close to breaking team records

The Boston Red Sox haven’t been known for always having the best closer. If they did, it was only short term before leaving for more money or leaving for a chance at winning. The boys from Beantown are now looking like they’ve got the best guy in baseball closing out games. No one is more lock down that Craig Kimbrel.

Before going into the 9th inning, right handed hitters were just 2/62 against him. That’s a .032 batting average. After his latest performance, right handed hitters are just 2/64 against him dropping that average to .031. That’s microscopic, almost can’t do any wrong with that average. The Red Rocket has picked up his 21st save this season and is now 21 for 22 in save chances this season, good for a 95.4% success rate this year.

Former Sox closer Tom Gordon remembered as “Flash Gordon” held the record for the most consecutive saves at Fenway Park without a blown save. In 1998, he saved 46 of 47 opportunities good for 97.8% of his chances including 43 straight. Going into the following season he kept the streak up to 54 straight saves without blowing a chance. An injury derailed his season and was out for the rest of that season and missed the entire 2000 campaign.

That was the last time a closer was almost perfect. Kimbrel looks to break that record at his current rate. There’s already a major strike out per nine innings difference. Gordon had an 8.8 K/9 ratio where as Kimbrel has a 16.3 K/9 ratio so far this season, almost double that of Gordon’s. So how different are they with out metrics?

What the major difference? Kimbrel throws a fastball regularly touching triple digits and a knuckle curve that absolutely buckles knees of opposing hitters. It’s quite fun to watch. Flash Gordon also had a record of 29 straight saves at Fenway Park to begin his career without blowing a save. Kimbrel hit number 29 last night. The fact of the matter is, the Sox only need to give eight strong innings before releasing their lock down closer.

Can the Red Rocket shut the door 54 straight times? I’m not gonna say he can’t. You’d be silly to bet against him. He’s that good. CK also has a 1.07 ERA. It feels like only yesterday when that number was at 0.85. Some will argue that he’s not even at the halfway mark of 54 straight saves but then again, everyone remembers Eric Gagne right?

No one is expecting anything short of brilliance when he’s on the mound. Kimbrel won’t flame out like Gagne and while he holds the record for most consecutive saves, I don’t think he’ll hold that record for too long. Not with someone this good playing right now. Kimbrel looks to make at least one more appearance in this series. I’m hoping to see Kimbrel break the record for most saves in a season.

Anything is possible when you have someone this good. He’s marching in the direction of hitting the 400 and 500 saves mark with no problem. We could see history be made if he keeps at his current pace. I think he’s going to crack 600 saves with plenty of juice left to break the current record of 652 saves held by Mariano Rivera.

The Sox will play the 2nd game of a four game series against the Twins tonight in Boston. Hector Santiago will face off against Drew Pomeranz who will again be seeking his 7th win on the season.

 

Photo Credit – Elise Amendola – AP Photo

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