The Los Angeles Dodgers let another game slip away as a result of a Craig Kimbrel meltdown in the ninth inning. With fans calling for Dave Roberts to make some changes to the bullpen amid the Dodgers’ rough stretch, LA’s manager had a declarative statement about Kimbrel’s future as the team’s closer. Via Juan Toribio, Roberts firmly declared that Kimbrel would maintain his role as the Dodgers’ closer.
#Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on the closer role: “Craig is our closer.”
— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) June 19, 2022
This is news that is sure to leave Dodgers fans unsettled. Kimbrel has struggled to find any semblance of consistency on the mound this season. It’s been particularly noticeable throughout his past 12 appearances, during which he’s surrendered 10 earned runs.
On the year now, Kimbrel owns a less-than encouraging 4.71 ERA and has 11 earned runs in 21.0 innings on the mound. At 34 years old, it stands to reason that the right-hander is no longer suited to being a closer for a World Series contender, but Roberts is sticking to his guns and keeping Kimbrel locked into his role.
Kimbrel surrendered 2 hits and 2 earned runs and walked 2 batters in 1.0 innings against the Guardians on Sunday. The Dodgers blew a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning before Kimbrel gave up a pair of runs at the top of the ninth frame in what was ultimately a 5-3 loss.
The Dodgers have now lost eight of their last 13 games, and while they’re still holding onto a lead in the NL West, the gap has been reduced to just 0.5 games. With Kimbrel inspiring no optimism out of the bullpen, Roberts’ decision to stick with the struggling veteran is a concerning call.