Craig Kimbrel pitched last night and it was a mixed bag. No walks, one out, two runners left on for Kyle Ryan. Kimbrel would wind up being charged with two earned runs as the two baserunners he left scored.
So there are a few nuggets to extract from last night's appearance.
First, my personal opinion: Kimbrel looked a notch or two better. His fastball was too low, coming in at mid level instead of where Willson was holding the glove. He threw his curve for several strikes, which is a great thing. If Kimbrel can get a few strikes on the curve, then hitters can't spot it and assume that it's a 100% ball. Overall, Kimbrel seemed a bit more in control. Ross had the quick hook, which I agreed with.
Second, exit velocity. On the two hits he gave up, both balls were driven at 105 mph. One was a double off the wall, which missed getting out by a few feet. It was close. Both hits were on very hittable fastballs near the middle of the strike zone. It's still not a great sign that hitters are driving his primary pitch.
In terms of velocity, it was a bit better. He threw 11 pitches: 5 fastballs for a 96.96 mph average and 6 curves at a 85.62 mph average. Both of those numbers were improved. Still down overall for his career numbers, but it's a baby step. It's also worth nothing that he threw more curves than fastballs, considering he typically uses the fastball 73% of the time.
Hi, it's AssMatt and you've been Bert'd. With the giant Doom Boner that Pronk has been sporting regarding Kimbrel, I thought I should add in my $0.02.
Surprisingly, there isn't as much DOOM this time around. Pronk, you surprise me. Another surprise is that I think (in my 1000% Not a Scout declaration) that Kimbrel is making strides and is close.
My (Not a Scout) first thought was perhaps his tunneling was off, making it easier to see the difference between the FB and Curveball. Hat tip to Pitching Ninja for the idea of overlaying the pitches. I got video of some of Kimbrel's pitches from the game. As you can see from this Mondesi at-bat, once I overlayed the curveball release with his fastball release they're coming from the same spot. Kimbrel ran into problems with Mondesi when he threw his fastball right down Broadway. (See Above)
When Kimbrel is able to locate his pitches, he is much more effective. (DUH! I know) His FB velocity was up to 97mph last night, which is a tick better than previous outings, and his command did seem better. That's what makes me think that his struggles are mechanical, and they've been working on them. Interestingly enough, when I overlayed fastballs to Mondesi and Cordero, you can see a slight mechanical difference in his arm path.
The pitch to Mondesi is a strike in the zone, while the pitch to Cordero is 'just a bit outside'. You might not be able to see the difference in real time, so I took a screen shot and there is a definite change in the arm path that resulted in the outside pitch. His arms are creating a V-shape, instead of being in the same spot.
All in all, I think this is good news in their ability to fix him. If it's a mental block, some guys just don't get over it. However, with it looking like it could be a mechanical issue I have faith that the Cubs and the Pitch Lab will get him straightened out. Eventually. They did it with Chatwood, some guy named Arrieta, etc. Just give it a little time.