Friday, March 24, 2023

Dodgers leave Craig Kimbrel off NLDS playoff roster

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Dodgers reliever Craig Kimbrel, who spent most of the season in the closer’s role, will not be on the roster when Los Angeles begins its best-of-five National League Division Series against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night. Right-handers Blake Treinen and Dustin May, each of whom had been dealing with injuries, made the cut instead:

Kimbrel, 34, was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the spring in exchange for outfielder AJ Pollock after longtime closer Kenley Jansen signed a one-year pact with the Atlanta Braves. He appeared in 63 games, posting a 3.75 ERA (112 ERA+) and a 2.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Kimbrel had recorded 22 saves, but none since Sept. 6. In fact, he’d primarily worked in middle relief down the stretch, with five of his final six appearances coming prior to the ninth inning. (The exception saw him enter in the 10th inning of a tied game versus the Padres, fittingly enough; he walked three batters and allowed the game-winning run to score.)

Kimbrel showed clear signs of decay as the season wound down. Although he sported a 3.00 ERA in his last 25 appearances of the season (dating back to Aug. 1), his peripherals veered in a concerning direction. Whereas he struck out 32 percent of the batters he had faced in his first 38 outings, he punched out just 20 percent after Aug. 1. Likewise, his walk rate swelled: instead of issuing a free pass around nine percent of the time, he began handing them out to more than 13 percent of the batters he faced.

The Dodgers, presumably happy with the progress made by Treinen (shoulder) and May (back) in their injury recoveries, decided they had better options on hand.

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