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The Worst Not-Blown Save Ever: Craig Kimbrel (Again)

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

Craig Kimbrel had a messy 2020 debut. He faced 6 batters, walked four of them, hit one, and got one groundout. Tasked with a three run lead, he gave up 2 runs and left the bases loaded for Jeremy Jeffress. It was a disaster. Even though the save was not blown, one has to think that David Ross will not be going back to Kimbrel in the 9th inning anytime soon.

There are a couple facts I'd like to pull out of this outing. First up: Bryan Smith from Bleacher Nation.

To back up what Bryan was saying: Kimbrel threw a whopping 34 pitches in this outing. 13 were for strikes, 19 balls. 10 were looking strikes, and there was just 1 swing and a miss. In 6 batters, he had just one swing and a miss.

I checked out Brooks Baseball. It seemed like Kimbrel's velocity was a bit better. But Brooks has him listed as a fastball of 94.96 and a curve of 83.99. Both of those are lower than his September 2019 career worst averages of 95.79/85.62.

Kimbrel's swing rate on fastballs last night was 40% and on curves it was 50%. Over his career, he averaged closer to 50% and 40% apiece. He was missing with the fastball, and guys were lining up his curve.

When I thought Kimbrel's velocity was up, my hunch was that he was overthrowing. Getting an extra oomph on his pitches at the expense of his control. But now seeing the velocities, I am not sure.

All of this is obviously just based off of one outing. But with his previous concerns about wildness and velocity, Monday night showed case in point of why Kimbrel will be a major cause of concern for the Cubs bullpen this year. Given the shortened nature of the season, I'm not sure where David Ross is going to find Kimbrel the time to get back on track. If Kimbrel's velocity is down, I'd rather have him "injured" and rehabbing in the minor leagues until he shows more control and speed. But there's no minor leagues this year. I don't know what the Cubs are going to do.


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