Craig Kimbrel Placed On Injured List
The Chicago Cubs have placed closer Craig Kimbrel on the injured list retroactive to September 2nd. Kimbrel was placed on the IL due to inflammation in his right elbow. In a corresponding move, infielder David Bote was recalled.
The #Cubs today placed RHP Craig Kimbrel on the 10-day IL (retroactive to 9/2) with right elbow inflammation.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 5, 2019
The Kimbrel Signing
Kimbrel was a free agent when the 2019 season began despite being part of the world champion Boston Red Sox in 2018. In 2018 Kimbrel saved 42 games with an ERA of 2.74, but his postseason numbers were not very good. Kimbrel did save six games, but his ERA hovered around 6.00. He had 10 strikeouts in 10 innings but also allowed 19 base runners.
With the Cubs desperately in need of a closer, Kimbrel seemed like a natural fit. On June 7th Kimbrel signed a three-year contract worth $45 million. Kimbrel, who was working out on his own, was sent to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs before joining the big club. On June 27th he made his Cubs debut.
Kimbrel’s season has been very good despite his high ERA. In 21 games Kimbrel is 0-2 and has saved 13 games, but his ERA sits at 5.68. Kimbrel has also allowed 29 base runners and has struck out 26 batters. In four of the 21 games pitched, Kimbrel has allowed two runs or more. This has contributed to his bloated ERA. To be fair about Kimbrel’s season, 16 of his outings have been scoreless ones.
The most important number for closers is blown saves. Kimbrel has blown only two save chances out of 15. Those two blown saves led directly to both of his losses. Kimbrel has certainly stabilized the back end of the Cubs bullpen.
Second Injured List Stint for Craig Kimbrel
This is the second time Kimbrel has been on the injured list. On August 5th right knee inflammation put Kimbrel on the shelf, but he was activated on August 18th. The only other time Kimbrel missed significant action in his career was back in 2016 when a torn left meniscus ended his season in July.
For a player with no injury history, this has been frustrating for both the Cubs and Kimbrel. Perhaps the lack of a proper spring training is catching up to Kimbrel.
With the Cubs fighting to keep their three-game lead in the wild card standings, this injury comes at a terrible time. The Cubs are on the road tonight to start a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers are chasing the Cubs and are four games behind in the wild card standings.
The Cubs have not announced who will be the closer, so the smart money is on Rowan Wick. However, manager Joe Maddon could use a mixture of pitchers. Kimbrel is eligible to return on September 12th, but the Cubs have hinted at being cautious with their star closer. The three-game cushion does play a role in that decision. The Cubs have a team good enough to make a long postseason run, but having a healthy Craig Kimbrel is a necessity.