When Craig Kimbrel was acquired from the San Diego Padres for top-tier prospects, there were high expectations for the dominant closer. With a fastball that is near triple digits, and a violent breaking ball that is nearly unhittable, his stuff is out this world for a closer. If only he could control those pitches on a consistent basis.
So far, he is six of six on save opportunities. And while the first two were not pretty, his last four have been what Red Sox fans have been hoping for.
In his last three saves, he has not allowed a single base runner, and has struck out 7 out of 9 batters. That is the type of stuff that invokes fear into a team. Whenever the ninth inning comes and the opposing team is down a run, Red Sox fans should have 100% confidence in Craig Kimbrel to make sure not even a single batter reaches first base.
Although Kimbrel has saved 37 out of 39 save opportunities in a Red Sox uniform, he has often struggled with control, especially his breaking ball, and had a career high walk rate last season. Well what is the point of writing this article if he has essentially been automatic as a Red Sock. Well, there is a different aura when a reliever is absolutely dominant.
Look at closer Aroldis Chapman, or utility reliever Andrew Miller. When those two enter the game, there is an aura around them that screams “No one is reaching base while I am on the mound.”
The Red Sox do not have many dominating pitchers, but Kimbrel can sure re-elevate to that level.