Craig Kimbrel pitched the 9th inning for July 31st's Pirates game. It was not good. Kimbrel gave up two home runs, then three straight outs. All were sharply hit. He didn't walk anyone, but unfortunately, two hitters elevated fly balls on him and they got out. Here's the replay.
Here's a number to make you cringe. If Craig Kimbrel isn't missing bats, he's giving up hard contact. Good for not walking anyone, but....
Let's talk velocity again. Kimbrel's velocity is still down. Someone suggested to me that Statcast is more accurate, so I grabbed the figures from both Statcast as well as my personal preference, Brooks. As you can see, the 2019 numbers are close, but the 2020 numbers are off by .5 mph on the fastball and .3 mph on the curve. Unfortunately, his 2020 velocities are right in line with 2019.
Questions have been raised if Kimbrel is tipping his pitches. I wonder. If hitters can see the curve coming and know that it's likely going to be a ball, then they can just wait on the fastball. I think that's an article for another day, but it's worth mentioning. Could a simple 1-2 mph off his pitches cause Kimbrel from being a Hall of Fame caliber player to a scrub? That seems like a stretch.
The 2020 season continues. So far we have two wins in two Kimbrel appearances, but I just can't see that continuing. With other holes in the bullpen being exposed, the Cubs need a solid closer, and need vintage Kimbrel to show up. I don't think it's going to happen.
Here's a bonus stat to send you on your way.