Craig Kimbrel needs to be left off the Dodgers’ postseason roster.
Sure, LA — the 2022 World Series favorite — is a sure bet to win its ninth NL West title in 10 years. And they may even challenge the MLB’s single-season wins record, despite its closer’s struggles.
But the 34-year-old right has been so bad that the Dodgers shouldn’t even trust him in low leverage situations.
Following Tuesday’s blown save — which I think everyone and their mothers were expecting to happen — he moved to 3-5 on the year with a 4.57 ERA.
You may say, “He only has four blown saves, he can’t be that bad!” First of all, you probably won’t say that. But either way, let me take you through some numbers.
Kimbrel has made 44 appearances this season. In 36 of them, he allowed at least one base runner. In 33 of those, he allowed a hit.
Kimbrel’s last appearance where he didn’t allow the base runner was July 13. He’s made 12 appearances since then.
Here’s another one for you. Kimbrel has 20 saves this season. None of those cams when he entered a one-run game.
If you’re a closer who can’t get a shutdown inning, I think it’s time to rethink if that’s really the best position for you.
Despite that, manager Dave Roberts continues to stick with “Dirty Craig.”
Fully healthy (even without Walker Buehler who just got shut down for the year), I can name 14 pitchers more deserving of a postseason roster spot than Kimbrel. They are:
Julio Urias, Clayton Kershaw, Tony Gonsolin, Tyler Anderson, Andrew Heaney, Dustin May, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Caleb Ferguson, the highly underrated Evan Phillips, Yency Almonte, Chris Martin, Alex Vesia, and David Price.
So, Kimbrel is maybe the Dodgers’ 15th best pitcher. And even then, I could make an argument for guys like Ryan Pepiot, or maybe even Phil Bickford — and I don’t think Bickford should be anywhere near the postseason roster.
But it doesn’t even matter. The maximum number of pitchers allowed on a postseason roster is 13. Craig Kimbrel is not one of the Dodgers’ 13 best pitchers.
So now you may be asking yourself, “Who will close games for the Dodgers in the postseason?”
I’m glad you asked!
The Dodgers have a ton of guys they can trust in high-leverage spots in the postseason.
The aforementioned Phillips hasn’t allowed a run since July 22, and that’s the only run he’s allowed since May 27. That’s 30 appearances with just one earned run.
Vesia’s last 10 appearances have been scoreless (although he can thank Chris Taylor for keeping his scoreless innings streak going on Tuesday night).
Almonte, who recently went on the IL due to some tightness, has thrown 11 straight scoreless innings in 12 appearances.
Price hasn’t allowed a run since July 12 — 11 innings in 11 appearances.
And Ferguson, who made his first appearance of the season on May 17, hasn’t allowed a run all season. He has a 0.00 ERA in his 19 appearances. And only three of those appearances were less than a full inning (they were all two outs).
The Dodgers are already loaded in the ‘pen, and can comfortably go to a closer-by-committee come playoff time, using matchups and rotations to keep everyone fresh.
And I didn’t even go in-depth on Treinen and Graterol, who are two of the nastiest relievers in baseball, and have a ton of recent experience in the postseason. Trainen has been highly regarded as the best reliever on this staff.
So that leaves the Dodgers with at least seven guys who they can comfortably throw into a high-leverage spot in the ninth inning. And I think May deserves a look upon his return from him, too.
If Kimbrel picks up a baseball for the Dodgers in October or November, it’ll be the biggest coaching error of Dave Roberts’ season. Kimbrel will be the reason the Dodgers don’t win the 2022 World Series. Dave Roberts cannot let that happen.