Dodgers can’t rely on Kimbrel in the postseason

LOS ANGELES — With less than two weeks remaining in the season, the Dodgers aren’t playing for a whole lot. If you’re looking for a reason to tune in every night, they need only three wins to break the franchise wins record. Their magic number to clinch homefield advantage through the World Series is seven.

Barring a pretty big losing streak, both of those should happen.

There is something that the Dodgers should be doing every night, though. An open-tryout for a bullpen spot in October.

Most of the bullpen is already decided, barring some injuries. With that being said, there are still a few spots up for grabs. I wrote about this over a month ago, but my point still stays true today.

The Dodgers will not win the World Series with Craig Kimbrel as their closer. Not only that, there needs to be a serious discussion about leaving him off the postseason roster entirely.

It really looked like Kimbrel was beginning to turn things around. I believed in it. From August 17 through September 13, LA’s closer had a nine-game stretch in which he didn’t allow a run. During those 9.1 innings, he allowed only one hit. It looked like he had finally turned a corner.

That stretch has since come to a screeching halt, as he’s allowed five runs (four earned) over his last four outings. Thursday night was yet another game in which Kimbrel was all over the place. Of his 19 pitches, only 10 were for strikes. He hit a batter, issued a walk and allowed the go-ahead home run. The damage could have been more significant had it not been for an overturned call at second base on a stolen base attempt.

“I think the stuff is starting to slide a little bit,” manager Dave Roberts said following the game. “I’ve got to continue to look at this. We’ve got to have our best guys at the back end. Continue to think through it.”

After last night, Kimbrel’s ERA sits at 4.14. His WHIP is 1.34. His strikeout-per-nine rate (10.8) is by far the lowest of his entire career. To put it kindly, Kimbrel is the Dodgers’ worst reliever.

“This is a point in time where performance matters,” Roberts said. “We need our best.”

Well if that’s the case, the Dodgers’ best bullpen doesn’t feature Craig Kimbrel in it.

When trying to predict the postseason roster for LA, I’m guessing they’ll go with 13 position players and 13 pitchers. If that’s the case, let’s go over the locks for the pitching staff.

Locks (10): Anderson, Ferguson, Graterol, Heaney, Kershaw, Martin, May, Phillips, Urias, Vesia

Will be on if healthy (3): Almonte, Gonsolin, Treinen

Fighting for a spot (3): Kahnle, Price, Bickford

If you include Kimbrel in this mix, there are 17 pitchers who will be fighting for 13 spots. There are a few question marks due to health, so maybe it ends up sorting itself out.

At this point in time, it just wouldn’t make any sense for Kimbrel to take the final roster spot over a pitcher who is more deserving, regardless of his career accolades.

“The ninth inning is unlike any other inning,” Roberts said. “Having guys that have finished games for us is a good thing. I think it’s something that I’m going to think through and figure out what’s best for the ball club.”

Dave is right. The ninth is the hardest inning. You need an arm you can count on. Luckily for LA, they have a number of guys with experience. Just this season, Graterol, Phillips, Martin, Vesia, Price and Almonte all have saves. They have a number of pitchers with experience in the ninth inning. Not to mention Treinen if he’s able to return.

At this point, the sample size is large enough. Kimbrel can’t be trusted in the ninth inning. The only way he can be trusted is if the lead is greater than five runs. I seriously doubt the Dodgers keep him as the closer, considering what they did with Kenley Jansen over the years (who by the way, was never close to this bad).

Dave Roberts said performance matters. He said they need their best. If he’s a man of his word, the postseason bullpen will not feature Craig Kimbrel.

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