Craig Kimbrel has become the closer Red Sox Nation has been looking for
Craig Kimbrel has become the closer the Boston Red Sox need to seriously compete in the AL East.
Craig Kimbrel has been a driving force for the early season success the Boston Red Sox have found as of late.
He hasn’t necessarily been in the spotlight, such as David Ortiz, who has looked better then ever in his supposed last year ever playing baseball.
Nor has he experienced the type of scrutiny his fellow pitchers David Price or Clay Buchholz experienced.
But through determination and working with a new pitching coach, Kimbrel has become the closer that Boston has needed while staying under the radar.
And maybe the one thing that is most amazing to the fan is the fact that he overcame the amount of hate thrown at him. Yeah, he wasn’t picked apart like his co-workers, but he still heard the peanut gallery.
Take for instance the criticism that Kimbrel couldn’t switch from the National League to the American League.
Well, for starters he spent four years in Atlanta and one in San Diego. Both are in the NL and I understand the argument people make. Yes, the potential for more home runs increases when a pitcher has to face another true hitter, such as when the Red Sox face the Toronto Blue Jays and Kimbrel has to face DH Edwin Encarnacion.
On the other hand, it’s not as if a closer like Kimbrel was ever facing opposing pitchers. Switching leagues has far less of an effect on relievers.
What is most satisfying is the improvement and hope he has shown as of late. Jonathan Papelbon and Koji Uehara were effective, but each had their own downfalls.
Papelbon was just greedy. He wanted more money. He wanted more innings, more attention. That kind of attitude doesn’t work when one plays for the Red Sox, unless you have the stats and popularity, which he didn’t have at the time.
Uehara was only a part of one team as closer that went over .500 and that was the 2013 World Series team. Maybe things just clicked for him that season or it was the team.
Towards the end of his stint as closer it just wasn’t working, but now he is delivering as a reliever with a 2-1 record with 18 strikeouts.
Going into the weekend series against Cleveland, Kimbrel had allowed one hit since April 24 through eight innings. He also had an ERA of zero. Yes, zero.
"“You’ve got a curve ball that’s nearly 90 miles an hour along with a fastball that’s approaching 100,” John Farrell said after Kimbrel struck out Jose Bautista, Juan Encarnacion, and Troy Tulowitzki. “He’s a unique animal and I’m glad he’s in our uniform.”"
Oh, he also tied for second in the league with 12 saves.
Kimbrel is a new face for a new era of Red Sox Nation. And if it is a winning one, which so far seems true, then I’m willing to give it a shot.