Chicago Cubs News: Five X-factors for team in postseason

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Craig Kimbrel (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: A sharp Kimbrel would be an excellent tool to have in the postseason

Allow me to be blunt: Craig Kimbrel looked like a complete and utter failure as a signing after a debacle of a year in 2019 and his first four appearances in 2020. More to the point, it looked like he was having a hard time hitting the broad side of a barn when his manager said he was “working the rust off” back in July.

I’ll admit I didn’t have a lot of faith or confidence in the once elite closer given his early-season struggles coupled with the sub-par half a season in 2019 when he didn’t sign until June. However, with every low-leverage appearance, Kimbrel seemed to be finding pieces of his mojo along the way. By the time the season ended, Kimbrel was essentially back in the closer role (though Ross hasn’t named anyone or used labels all year). His upper-90s fastball, coupled with his patented hook, had led him back to a spot where he was striking out two batters every time he took the ball for an inning.

As Kimbrel’s command, confidence, and stuff worked itself back into form, the rest of the Cubs bullpen followed suit as well. Yet, with the loss of Rowan Wick and the suspect peripherals of bullpen savior Jeremy Jeffress, the Cubs must get the best version of Kimbrel possible. His performance will be an essential factor for the Cubs in this postseason, and he’s got a chance to impact it in the same way as Aroldis Chapman in 2016. Let’s hope the outcome is the same… minus that home run to Rajai Davis, of course.

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