Following Craig Kimbrel's epic meltdown on Tuesday night in Milwaukee, that resulted in a walk-off win for the Brewers, it would have been completely understandable if Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided not to use Kimbrel in a close 2-1 game. Especially since Tuesday marked the fourth time this season that the Dodgers closer has blown a one-run lead in a save opportunity.
For Roberts, there was never a question of whether or not he was going to use Kimbrel (quotes via OCR's Bill Plunkett).
“If we have a one-run lead tonight, he’s pitching,” Roberts said.
Plunkett used the opportunity for a brilliant quip.
The baseball gods heard and must have said, “Hold my beer.”
At first blush, using Kimbrel looked like a winning proposition. The former All-Star closer recorded the first two outs of the ninth without much drama. But then, the worm turned - as it does when Kimbrel is on the mound. Keston Hiura logged an infield single, and Mike Brousseau drew a walk to put the tying and winning runs on the bases. Luis Urias smacked a ground ball right to Max Muncy, who calmly tagged third base to end the game.
After the game, Roberts discussed what everybody wanted to discuss - his closer.
“I thought tonight was fine. Obviously it got a little traffic there at the end, but I liked the fastball command tonight. I liked the breaking ball in-zone. We got a couple ground balls. There was a walk in there. But outside of that, I thought he threw the ball well.”
Following each Kimbrel blown save, Roberts has stated his confidence and the closer. He's readily refused to inject any controversy about using Kimbrel for future save opportunities.
With the Dodgers owning the best record in baseball, it makes some sense, but come October, don't be surprised to see another reliever in the ninth to close things done.