Kimbrel is a Delicate Flower. But it’s not all his fault #abolishthesave

Great win for the Sox last night. I found myself far more excited and on the edge of my seat than I thought I’d be…I guess that’s what two years of underachievement will do to a fan.

Now, I’m fired up, and I think they have a pretty good shot at advancing. More on that later.

I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and last night’s game, right up until…..Kimbrel time.

Now, I haven’t been the biggest fan of his since they sent 4 legit prospects for him. He’s a stud closer, but I’m not big on paying for saves. Saves are stupid. Saves should be outlawed. Eliminated from the game. Managers manage to the statistic, which is arbitrary and invented out of thin air, and then players base their whole mindset around it. Kimbrel is the poster boy for this.

The one inning closer. He only likes to come in to clean innings. Only likes to pitch the 9th. Only wants to come in if he has a lead. Don’t have no time for a tie game. Got to be lead of 3 runs or less, though…can’t be bothered to help the team win a 4 run game. Oh, wait, unless the tying run makes it to the on-deck circle, then I’m available, Skip!  See….totally arbitrary and foolish.

Kimbrel is the prototypical one inning closer, that is, in my opinion, one of the 5 worst things wrong with the game of baseball today.

Technically, last night was a one inning, save situation, I understand. But it’s the playoffs. It’s a clincher. It’s Yankee Stadium. It’s not a normal environment…and these coddled 1-inning tough guys aren’t always cut out for not normal.

Here are some quick stats to illustrate how Kimbrel has handled “not normal” situations in 2018:

Kimbrel not normal.png

Goldilocks needs everything just riiiight, or he tends to turn into a puddle…this was never more on display than in Da Bronx last night.

Now, hey, I’m not here just to take cheap shots at Kimbrel…this is more of an indictment of the “Save” Culture. And, lest you accuse me of “pulling a Mazz” (shout out to My Buddy Matty, and Bry-Bry Miceli, who both texted those exact words to me last night), go ahead and scan my social media feeds.

You won’t find any old embarrassing racist tweets, or inappropriate song lyrics that have become all the rage….but you will find about a THOUSAND references to #abolishthesave , dating back at least 10 years. I’ve been on this crusade since before Craig Kimbrel failed at becoming a starting pitcher, and I’ll be on it long after the next failed starter racks up a bunch of “saves”. And I’ve pointed out ad nauseum over the last 3 years, how  fragile this particular delicate flower is. This isn’t some reactionary stance I’m taking for clicks, or to be contrarian.

I do wish Kimbrel were capable of pitching to 2-3-4 in the lineup in a close game, even if that happened to take place in, GASP, the 8th inning…but I know that’s not going to happen. He needs to be managed correctly. And I think when he is, last night notwithstanding, he has the talent and ability to closeout a Red Sox title run. I honestly do, Mike!!!! I do!!!

It’s just that I don’t think we should just take him for granted, and assume everything is going to be ok, when you get to the 9th. The ALCS is not normal. This guy hasn’t been on the big stage ever before, and his track record for “not normal” just isn’t anything to be excited about.

 

Oh, and I do need to take ONE cheap shot…WTF is this pose? Please stop immediately, TOOL.

kimbrel pose.jpg

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