Craig Kimbrel Might Actually Be the Most Dominant Reliever in Baseball Right Now

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Craig Kimbrel Might Actually Be the Most Dominant Reliever in Baseball Right Now

Chicago Cubs

Craig Kimbrel didn’t just ball out today, coming into a bases-loaded jam in the 8th and striking out two to end it, and then finishing the game in the 9th. He also got himself a really nice career milestone, recording his 350th career save in the process. That’s 12th all-time, just 8 saves behind Troy Percival, and 17 behind Jeff Reardon for top 10 status. Very cool.

But it wasn’t even just that Kimbrel was great today and got the save today and hit a milestone today. It’s that he was the same guy he’s been so far this year in all four of his outings, which is the same guy he was last year after fixing his start-of-season mechanical issues. You know, the guy who was on a Hall of Fame trajectory before coming to the Cubs late in 2019, not getting a real ramp-up, getting injured almost immediately, and having a total throwaway 2019 season. I think maybe he’s always been CRAIG KIMBREL, he just had everything mucked up by timing and injuries in 2019 and those first four outings in 2020.

The guy hasn’t allowed a run since August. And even going back to August 14 (his first appearance when things were “fixed”), Kimbrel has been the most dominant reliever in baseball by wOBA. Among pitchers who’ve faced at least 40 batters over that time period, Kimbrel’s .148 wOBA against is best in baseball (an absurd .080/.207/.080 slash line), nearly 20 points better than new White Sox closer Liam Hendriks.

Oh, also? Kimbrel has a 55.2% strikeout rate over that period (LOL). And you guessed it, that’s also tops in baseball.

… and that was before today, when Kimbrel was perfect for five more batters today with three strikeouts. His lead in those categories is probably gonna grow.

What I’m saying is, Craig Kimbrel might be the single most dominant reliever in baseball right now. Sure, we’ll wait for a bigger sample to actually declare it, but then again, the sample was kinda huge before 2019.

More Kimbrel fun from today:



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.