As playoffs begins, Craig Kimbrel is ready to be dominant in a Cubs postseason run
Regardless of what he’s been through the last two years since he last appeared in a postseason game, Craig Kimbrel is ready to put it all away.
When the Cubs take the field and kick off the wild-card series against the Marlins, Kimbrel will sit in the Cubs bullpen and hope for a chance.
“I hope I get my opportunity,” Kimbrel said last week. “That’s all I can say.”
In a year in which the Cubs have gone through so much, no one may have gone through as much as the veteran closer has. There was the obvious: on-field struggles in August where he lost the closer’s role and saw his ERA balloon to 23.63 in his first four outings. Then there was the not-so obvious: he dealt with off-field issues.
Through it all, though, Kimbrel persevered. That’s meant a lot to the Cubs.
“I was trying to look back on some things that I was most proud of this year and I think that’s one of them,” David Ross said Monday afternoon. “The way that Craig handled the environment that he was presented with along with having some issues with his daughter in this environment, still coming to work and overcoming a lot of adversity off the field and then coming here and overcoming on the field.
“He worked and he continued to work and he never hung his head.”
Kimbrel’s resiliency and ability to bounce back has served as an inspiration to the Cubs. In the month of September, Kimbrel pitched 6 scoreless innings and allowed just 3 hits, striking out 11.
“Craig, he’s the ultimate pro, man,” Kyle Hendricks said. “He handled the situation unbelievably overall.”
Having Kimbrel return to his old, dominant self, is crucial for the Cubs’ success in October. The Cubs have seen a resurgent bullpen in September and when you couple that with a stout Jeremy Jeffress and Craig Kimbrel at the backend, it gives the Cubs a 1-2 punch that can carry them far in the postseason.
“It’s just awesome to see him going out and now being the normal Craig he is,” Hendricks said. “You can see [he’s] back to having fun. That’s the guy we really need for this team. I’m super happy for him and the work he’s put in.”
No matter what’s been through, though, Ross and the Cubs know that they couldn’t get where they were without Kimbrel. And they won’t go too far without him. When the bullpen phone rings, though, Kimbrel will be ready. He’s sure of that, too.
“Let’s just get there and get it done and we’ll have a lot to talk about,” Kimbrel said.