Cubes placed closer Craig Kimbrel to the list of injured due to inflammation in his right elbow, Tweets to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Baseball Operations President Theo Epstein told reporters that the team performed a Kimberlitz MRI, which came back clean and did not reveal any structural damage ( Twitter link with video, via Mark Gonzalez of the Chicago Tribune) of Kimbrel is retroactive to Monday and he will be eligible to return next Thursday. This move allows the Cubes to recall David Botte from Triple-A Iowa before the 1
It was a downgrade season for 31-year-old Kimbrel, who spent the first two months throwing the brunt of draft protection compensation before eventually signing a three-year, $ 43 million contract with the Cubs. Kimbrel had a rough few trips early in his term with the Cubs, but rebounded with eight consecutive results with no result. Most of Kimbrel's outs are clean, but he's also allowed three runs scored on three separate occasions, leaving him with a bloated 5.68 ERA in 19 total innings since his signing.
The average fastball speeds of 96.3 mph in Kimbrel are lower than last year's 97.1 mph average, though his heater has gained some life since the summer has worn off. Like its speed, Kimbrel's K / 9 rate (12.3) and swing ratio (14.6 percent) are better than the league average, but both are lower than its elite standards . The biggest struggle, however, was the control or lack thereof. Kimbrel has passed 11 Tests and cut two more in just 19 innings of work (5.2 BB / 9), and his ability to find the ball in the area has clearly decreased. Already served up to six home runs in those 19 passes – a mark that is just one shy of last year's career allowed – seven homers are allowed.
The extent to which prolonged early season dismissal has contributed to Kimbrel's controlling problems is unknown, but a return to form will be crucial to the playoffs' immediate chances and long-term prospects. Kimbrel would hardly be the only free agent to fight after shortened (or, in his case, completely missed) spring training, but he also showed some red flags at the end of 2018 – especially in the postseason. If that turns out to be the beginning of a sharp drop, Kimbrel's salary of $ 16 million over the next two seasons will be particularly burdensome.