There. Dave Roberts I said so on Friday. finally.
The words paused, but came, after a thoughtful pause.
“For now, I think I’ll keep Craig down tonight,” Roberts said. “And my expectations were, yeah, I just talked to him today. At the moment, we’re planning to change roles and put him in a position where he can pitch in different innings in different situations.”
“He’s been very open to doing what’s best for the ballclub. So it feels good and we’ll see where it takes us.”
Kimbrel hit a home run in the ninth inning on Thursday to put the Arizona Diamondbacks ahead by a single point.The Dodgers won in the bottom of the inning. Mookie Betts Sayonara Singlegave Kimbrel the win.
But Kimbrel, 34, has played in 57 games this season with a 4.14 ERA and has failed five of his 27 save chances. He is seventh all-time with his 394 saves in his 13 his seasons, and until 2014 he led the league for the fourth straight year.
Perhaps that’s why Roberts and the Dodgers front office stuck with him for so long, even though his effectiveness had clearly declined since his prime.
Roberts said he was grateful for the way Kimbrel received the news that he was no longer a closer.
“He’s very professional and I know there’s a lot more consistency there and an openness to do what’s best,” he said. “My job is to find the best lane for him and he’s not worried about changing from his usual routine. He sees it as a challenge. It’s the way we expect it to be. And it says a lot about him as a team player.”
Roberts said there are currently no relievers to take on the closer role. Evan Phillips, Brusdar Graterol and Alex Vesia are the most likely candidates.
“No, for us, we know to treat him the same way we treat every player and put them in the best position to put them out,” Roberts said. “That’s how we approach every Penn inning.”
This story originally appeared los angeles times.