Craig Kimbrel, Still Pitching in a Setup Role, Got Knocked Around in ALDS Game 2

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Craig Kimbrel, Still Pitching in a Setup Role, Got Knocked Around in ALDS Game 2

Chicago Cubs

Craig Kimbrel, who was arguably the best reliever in baseball in the first half of the season (and even going back to mid-August of last year, actually), was traded to the Chicago White Sox at the deadline. You know this. You also know that the White Sox already had an ensconced closer in Liam Hendriks, and opted to make the then-superior Kimbrel the 8th inning guy. It has been a disaster. Constantly.

And today was, unfortunately, one of the most highly-visible installments.

Entering into a messy situation in the 7th inning of today’s ALDS Game Two against the Astros, Kimbrel was tasked with keeping the Astros lead to just one. With one out and two runners on, Kimbrel was able to record an out upon entering, but then gave up a rocket double and a rocket home run to put the game out of reach:

It still just makes me so mad how Kimbrel has been used by the White Sox, and how much he’s struggled. I know that it’s still his job to pitch well, and he’s being paid well, and maybe he would’ve stunk as the closer, too, and blah blah blah. Still. It just ticks me off.

The White Sox hold a $16 million team option on Kimbrel for next year ($1 million buyout), and I think it is a lock that they will try to trade him either before they have to pick it up, or at some point after doing so. The guy is a closer. He needs to be a closer. And on the White Sox, he won’t be. So pick up the option, and then recoup whatever small value you can.

… maybe from the Cubs. That’d be fine by me. I’m not even entirely kidding, since Kimbrel on a one-year, $16 million deal strikes me as a good value for a team like the Cubs in 2022 (short-term, high-AAV is the way). It won’t happen, since the White Sox won’t want the relative embarrassment.

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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.