Despite Recent Struggles, Alex Cora Not Worried About Craig Kimbrel

Craig Kimbrel often is one of the most dominant closers in the Major League Baseball, but he’s been in a bit of a rut lately.

The hard-throwing right-hander surrendered the game-tying home run in the ninth inning of the Boston Red Sox’s extra-innings victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. The solo shot he allowed to Justin Smoak capped off what’s been a forgettable last five outings for Kimbrel, who has allowed five runs with five walks and six strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings in that stretch, good for an 8.44 ERA.

While on the surface it may be concerning, Sox manager Alex Cora isn’t losing sleep over Kimbrel’s performance. During an appearance on WEEI’s “Dale & Keefe” on Wednesday, Cora shared what he thought went wrong in Tuesday’s outing, and why he isn’t worried about his closer.

“Yesterday the velocity was good. The fastball command was good, he just fell behind Smoak in a 3-0 count and he put a good swing on it,” Cora said. “For me, personally, since Baltimore there’s been no command of the breaking stuff and I don’t know if (batters) are recognizing the pitch right away out of the hand or they’re doing a better job fouling it off.

“One thing’s for sure, if we have a chance for him to come in tonight he’ll be there,” Cora added. “I’m not worried about Craig, I know he’ll show up tonight and do the job.”

When in peak form, Kimbrel is untouchable. And given rough patches like this are more the exception than the rule for him, it certainly is reasonable to believe he’ll bounce back at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Thumbnail photo via Peter G. Aiken/USA TODAY Sports

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