It has been a while since I have written my last blog, and a lot has happened in Major League Baseball since then. Namely, we see Jacob deGrom and his 0.56 ERA challenge the historic 1968 season that Bob Gibson had, and yet another “sticky” situation that is being investigated regarding alleged substances being used by possibly many pitchers.
These big happenings have taken the baseball world by storm, with a side effect being the lack of attention given to those that also deserve it.
Many players have seen a resurgence in success. Stars like Nolan Arenado, Buster Posey, and Matt Olson are all having bounce-back seasons, and we are seeing their past dominance come back to life.
When looking at pitchers that have returned to their dominant selves, Chicago Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel comes to mind. He has seen the biggest resurgence of any closer this season thus far, and it has been exciting to watch.
Very few closers have dominated over an entire decade as Kimbrel did. From 2000-2009, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was completely dominant, compiling 397 saves and a 2.08 ERA over those ten seasons. When looking at Kimbrel’s numbers from 2010-2019, he also had a 2.08 ERA and collected 346 saves in that span. Both Rivera and Kimbrel had sub-1 WHIPs, a truly incredible feat.
Though Kimbrel wasn’t nearly as dominant as Mariano was in their Postseason appearances, Craig was the face of baseball’s closers for the past decade.
In 2019 and 2020, Craig fell off drastically. He had a 6.00 ERA, over 41 appearances in those two seasons. A once seeming lock for the Hall of Fame was seeing his career fall apart in an untimely manner. However, his start to the 2021 season has been incredible and has been arguably the best closer this year.
Over 28 games, he has 18 saves and a terrific 0.66 ERA. This stretch of dominance has greatly helped his career ERA, as it’s down to 2.10.
Though no one can know what the future will hold for Kimbrel, one can see by just watching him that his confidence is back. His body language on the mound is of supreme confidence, and his pitches are becoming more and more filthy as the year carries on.
To answer the question I asked in the title of this article: yes, I do believe he can maintain this dominance in 2021 and beyond. His resurgence deserves more attention than what it has been getting thus far, and the game is so much better when Craig Kimbrel is dominating the game.