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Craig Kimbrel Will No Longer Serve as Dodgers' Closer; Postseason Role TBD

Erin WalshSeptember 24, 2022

Harry How/Getty Images

Craig Kimbrel will no longer serve as the Los Angeles Dodgers' closer, manager Dave Roberts told reporters Friday.

"I don’t know," Roberts said when asked if Kimbrel would return to being the team's closer in the postseason. "I think that’s where we’re at right now. Nothing is cemented but we think that’s the best way to go about it right now."

Kimbrel, an eight-time All-Star, has struggled in his first season with the Dodgers, posting a 4.14 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 65 strikeouts in 54.1 innings across 46 appearances. He has also blown five saves.

For reference, the right-hander has a career 2.33 ERA, and his 394 career saves lead all active pitchers.

The last straw for Kimbrel came in Thursday's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks when he gave up the go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth inning before his teammates rallied in the bottom half of the inning for a 3-2 win.

"The stuff is starting to slide a little bit, the fastball velocity," Roberts said after Thursday’s game. "I’ve just got to continue to look at this. We’ve got to have our best guys at the back end."

The Dodgers acquired Kimbrel in a trade that sent A.J. Pollock to the Chicago White Sox. He is in the final year of his contract, earning $16 million this season. The 34-year-old was acquired to replace Kenley Jansen, who signed with the Atlanta Braves in the offseason.

It's unclear who the Dodgers will turn to in the ninth inning moving forward. They have Alex Vesia, Evan Phillips, Caleb Ferguson, Chris Martin, Brusdar Graterol, Tommy Kahnle and Phil Bickford available out of the pen.

The Dodgers have already locked up a playoff spot and the NL West title, sitting first in the division with a 104-46 record, the best mark in baseball.

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