Los Angeles Dodgers Take Craig Kimbrel From Closer Role, Will Use Commission Approach

LOS ANGELES — With less than two weeks left in their regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have removed Craig Kimbrel as their closer, an important development that will have a major impact on their pitching staff.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said on Friday that Kimbrel, 34, will play several roles in his bullpen and will take a closer approach, at least for the foreseeable future. Roberts has not committed to continuing this strategy into the post-season, but it seems highly unlikely that the team will be fast approaching with October.

“Right now the plan is to switch roles and put him in a position to pitch in different innings and different situations,” Roberts said of Kimbrel. “He was very open to doing what was best for the ball club. I have a good feeling about it, and we’ll see where that takes us.”

The Dodgers acquired Kimbrel in a one-on-one trade that sent outfielder AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox on April 1, a few weeks after longtime poet Kenley Jansen signed with the Atlanta Braves. But Kimbrel, an eight-time All-Star and one of the most accomplished shutters in history, has barely looked domineering.

He has a 4.14 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP over 57 appearances, while having a career-low 27% strikeout percentage and forfeiting five of the 27 save opportunities. His first save on one point didn’t come until mid-August.

The Dodgers bullpen has already lost Daniel Hudson this season to an ACL injury and has only made five appearances from Blake Treinen, who is back on the injured list with problems in the same right shoulder that kept him sidelined since April. Hudson, Treinen and Kimbrel were expected to make up the Dodgers’ back-end trio heading into the season.

With all three out of the mix, Evan Phillips, who has a 1.24 ERA and strikeouts 68 in 58 innings, could open up a lot of opportunities in the ninth inning. The likes of Brusdar Graterol, Chris Martin, Tommy Kahnle and Alex Vesia, a lefty, could also be in play.

Roberts was asked what he would think of a closer approach in October.

“It’s kind of a mentality of just because we’ve always done something a certain way doesn’t make it right,” he said. “It may not be traditional, but I’m not too concerned about it.”

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