Major League Baseball players have never really looked forward to facing Craig Kimbrel, but this season, it’s a near-impossible task.
The Boston Red Sox pitcher has been one of the best closers in baseball for his entire career. Among active relievers, Kimbrel owns the best career opponent average (.153), the most strikeouts per nine innings (14.60), the second-best ERA (1.81) and already is fourth in saves (269) behind pitchers with significantly more games played. Those numbers could get even better, too, as the 28-year-old is on track for the best season of his career.
Kimbrel tallied his 13th save Friday night against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park, and even though he didn’t record a strikeout, he sat down the three Mariners he saw in order. He’s retired 35 of his last 37 batters, and the Red Sox gave this eye-opening look at his stats before Friday’s 3-0 win.
Kimbrel raised that last stat to 0-for-39 after the game, giving him an .083 opponent batting average on the year. He also owns a 0.83 ERA, 0.37 WHIP, 16.62 K/9 and a whopping 40 strikeouts over 21 2/3 innings.
The Red Sox started the year with Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg both on the disabled list, but having Kimbrel performing at the absolute top of his game definitely has lessened the blow.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images