Craig Kimbrel Is In The ‘Middle Of Conversations’ With The Cubs About Whether He’s Still The Closer

Closer Craig Kimbrel #24 of the Chicago Cubs pitches during the ninth inning of a game
Rich Schultz / Getty Images

It’s not clear whether Craig Kimbrel is going to take the ball in a save situation for the Chicago Cubs on Saturday or the near future, should such a situation occur.

The team’s manager, David Ross was asked on Saturday about the situation and NBC Chicago writer Maddie Lee reported on Twitter that his response left the door open to a change.

“I’m not sure on that yet. But I’ll get back to you on that one,” Ross said. When he was pressed on whether or not he was thinking about demoting Kimbrel, he wouldn’t say yes or no. “I’m in the middle of conversations with Craig, so we’ll have those with him before I talk to you guys.”

Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation said reporters asking about whether Kimbrel is going to stay the closer, even this early in the season, makes sense. While the Cubs are 5-2 so far this year, there are only 53 contests left, assuming a Thursday rainout is made up. If it’s not, there are only 52 left.

He added that with every game being as important as they are in 2020, big changes can and should be made quickly. That’s especially true with someone like Kimbrel, who has struggled already this year and also struggled quite a bit in 2019.

Closer Craig Kimbrel #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after a pitch
  Rich Schultz / Getty Images

The pressure got turned up from fans this summer when he walked four batters and allowed two earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning in his first start. He followed that up on Friday night by allowing two hits — both home runs – in an inning of work. Overall, he has a 27.00 earned run average and a 4.50 WHIP this season.

Those outings are a follow up to career-worst numbers in 2019 in a variety of different categories. Injuries and not signing until June led to him appearing in the lowest number of games since his rookie year. Despite that, he surrendered nine home runs, the most he’s ever allowed in a single season.

Kimbrel’s elevated homers-allowed-rate is reportedly one of the reasons the Cubs appear to be considering a change at the closer position, according to Taylor. The writer added it’s not known what will happen the next time a save chance does pop up for the team.

Taylor doesn’t believe Ross is convinced the ball should be handed to Kimbrel, but the “conversations” apparently aren’t completed just yet. Kimbrel’s squad is currently in first place in the NL Central, and that has analysts thinking the final decision needs to be made quickly.