Chicago Cubs: Craig Kimbrel could decide the bullpen’s fate in 2020

Craig Kimbrel (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Craig Kimbrel (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: The up-and-down continues as season winds down

But just as soon as you started to feel comfortable with Kimbrel in the ninth, he’d fall victim to the long ball once again – as he did on July 27 when the Brewers rallied to win 5-3 in extras at Miller Park, one of the Cubs’ most crushing losses of the season.

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In essence, Craig Kimbrel’s first season with the Cubs was a roller coaster. Some days, he’d look the part – a potential future Hall of Fame closer. Others, it was like watching the reincarnation of Carlos Marmol. Without the traditional ramp-up period and full Spring Training, the right-hander clearly missed a tick on his fastball. Missing that velocity, when he made mistakes, opponents made him pay.

"“That’s the thing about being a relief pitcher. There’s a fine line between success and struggle,” Kimbrel told “Minimizing damage, staying away from the big innings, things like that, those are things I wasn’t able to do this year that I’ve been really good at over my career, I’d find myself in trouble and get out of it. There were times where I wasn’t able to get out of it this year and the numbers show that.”"

Chicago shut down their closer late in September after he battled back from his second IL stint in mere months. In a trio of appearances that month, he was torched for six runs on four home runs. He struck out five and walked a pair in just 2 1/3 innings of work. Opponents slugged 1.545 against him in these outings.