Cubs will stick with Craig Kimbrel as closer, come hell or high water

Craig Kimbrel / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
Craig Kimbrel / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
Craig K imbrel / Chicago Cubs (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs have to expect better from Kimbrel in 2020

This isn’t anything new, really. The bullpen has made people nervous for awhile now. Last summer, that uneasiness came to a head and prompted the front office to go out and bring in Craig Kimbrel once the draft pick compensation attached to him dropped off. Expecting the potential Hall of Fame stopper he’d been all his career, the Cubs got a very different experience.

The right-hander made 23 appearances – roughly a third of what he’d averaged annually since 2011 – but allowed a career-worst nine home runs and a 6.53 ERA. For the second straight season, his walk rate marked a new personal high and he just flat-out didn’t miss bats like he had in the past. His velocity was down, location was off and his first stint on the North Side was a disaster of epic proportions.

"“Terrible is kind of an understatement for what I felt like I did last year,” Kimbrel said this spring. “Going into this year, I just need to get back to doing my job, getting on the mound and saving games. Time will tell. A lot of questions will be answered.”"

There are all kinds of potential reasons for his struggles. The irregular offseason and lack of spring training given he didn’t sign till June. The rapid ramp-up once he did sign. His strength regimen during the offseason. Or maybe – and the Cubs are desperately hoping this isn’t the case – this is the beginning of the end for Kimbrel.