Los Angeles Dodgers pull Craig Kimbrel from closer role, will use committee approach

LOS ANGELES — With less than two weeks left in their regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have removed Craig Kimbrel as their closer, a key development that will have far-reaching implications for their pitching staff.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Friday that Kimbrel, 34, will take on various roles in his bullpen and will take a closer approach, at least for the foreseeable future. Roberts hasn’t committed to continuing that strategy into the postseason, but it seems highly unlikely that the team will switch again as October approaches.

“Right now the plan is to switch roles and kind of put him in a position to play in different innings and different situations,” Roberts said of Kimbrel. “He has been very open about doing what is best for the ball club. I feel good about it and we’ll see where it takes us.”

The Dodgers acquired Kimbrel in a one-for-one trade that sent outfielder AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox on April 1, a few weeks after Kenley Jansen had signed long closer with the Atlanta Braves. But Kimbrel, an eight-time All-Star and one of the most accomplished closers in history, has barely come across as dominant.

He has a 4.14 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 57 appearances while posting a career low streak rate of 27% and blowing five out of 27 saves. His first one-run save didn’t come until mid-August.

The Dodgers’ bullpen has already lost Daniel Hudson for the season to an ACL injury and has only received five appearances from Blake Treinen, who is back on the injured list with problems in the same right shoulder that had kept him out since April. Hudson, Treinen and Kimbrel would make up the Dodgers’ back-end trio early in the season.

With all three in the mix, Evan Phillips, who has a 1.24 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 58 innings, could have plenty of opportunities in the ninth inning. The likes of Brusdar Graterol, Chris Martin, Tommy Kahnle and Alex Vesia, a left-hander, could also play a role.

Roberts was asked what he thought of a tighter approach in October.

“It’s kind of a mindset, just because we’ve always done something one way doesn’t make it right,” he said. “It might not be traditional, but I’m not overly concerned about it.”

https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34652269/los-angeles-dodgers-pull-craig-kimbrel-closer-role-use-committee-approach Los Angeles Dodgers pull Craig Kimbrel from closer role, will use committee approach

Emma Bowman

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