May 7, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) pitches during the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. The Reds defeated the Braves 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports
Kris Medlen threw seven innings while giving up just four hits and two earned runs before handing the ball off to one of the most established and feared bullpens in baseball. With a two-run cushion, the game is basically over. The next two innings are just a formality, right?
Wrong. The Braves lost 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning after a Shin-Soo Choo walk-off home run off of Craig Kimbrel.
Eric O’Flaherty gave up one run on three hits, and Craig Kimbrel capped off the blown game by giving up back-to-back home runs by Devan Mesoraco and Shin-Soo Choo. Kimbrel has given up three home runs already this season and has also blown three saves in his past five outings.
As should be expected, people are freaking out. All over Twitter, people are worrying about whether Kimbrel has “lost it” and speculating what he is doing wrong.
Well, to allay your worries, yes Kimbrel has lost it — if by it, you mean the historic 2012 season he had. If anyone was expecting that type of production out of him again this year they are… well, they are probably normal fans, but the point is, he is human. He’s not some type of machine that never falters and strikes out virtually everyone he faces.
This holds true for the rest of the bullpen, as well. It was the best bullpen in baseball a year ago, and people naturally expected similar results this year. All of the main guys were coming back, as well as the addition of flame-thrower, Jordan Walden.
Craig Kimbrel is still a great pitcher and he is still the best closer in baseball, but he’s not going to have another 2012. Once people can get used to that, they will be okay. The Braves are 19-13, and sitting in first in the NL East. It’s not time to worry about much… at least not yet.
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