Since his arrival in Atlanta, Craig Kimbrel has been reminding batters that they’re human after all. The no doubt best closer in baseball today, Kimbrel is already becoming a staple in the Atlanta Braves organization, and with the NLDS coming up he’s got a chance to show the world his talent on the big stage.
In his first three years in the bigs, barring his 20.2 IP in 2010, Kimbrel has logged 138 saves with 341 strikeouts and only 113 hits. Guys like him don’t come around very often; in fact there may have never been anyone like him before. We cannot tell the future, and I would say it’s unlikely Kimbrel could sustain a career as long as a guy like Mariano Rivera due to his use of a blazing fastball that will likely decline in speed as he ages. But if somehow he does, Rivera may find himself behind someone in career saves.
I know it may seem almost disrespectful to put Kimbrel’s name in there next to Rivera, but he’s really been that good. In 2012, he posted numbers never before seen. Numbers like a .654 WHIP, 16.7 K/9 and an 8.29 SO/BB ratio. While he hasn’t been quite as dominant this year, he’s been nearly as effective, giving up only nine earned runs over 66 IP opposed to last season’s 7 ER over 62.2 IP.
For the first time since 2010, when he was still wet behind the ears, Kimbrel will get a chance to play in the postseason. While seeing him close out games in front of big home crowds has always been a thrill, nothing will compare to seeing Kimbrel get his first save in October.