The Phillies Have A Serious Craig Kimbrel Problem
Most of the Phillies did their job tonight. They had a 5-2 lead going into the 7th. Some very iffy pitching by Gregory Soto and Orion Kerkering made it a 5-3 lead. But it was when Craig Kimbrel came in that the game turned onto its head. A 2-run HR off the bat of pinch hitter Alek Thomas tied the game. He then let two more base runners get on before finally getting pulled. Jose Alvarado let one of those runners score, and that was all she wrote. A Kyle Schwarber double was not enough in the top of the 9th, and the Phillies lost 6-5, allowing the DBacks to tie up the series.
There were several issues in the game. None graver though than Craig Kimbrel. Orion Kerkering coming in and looking great was a bit of a pipe dream considering he had next to no MLB experience. But Craig Kimbrel is supposed to be one of their key guys out of the bullpen. Now he has taken two straight losses, and given up 4 earned runs over the last two games.
The starters continue to get it done. Christopher Sanchez didn’t last long, but he was decent enough. At most, he would have to start one more time this postseason. The rotation is not a concern considering how well Wheeler, Nola, and Suarez have pitched. Did the lineup leave a little on the table? Sure. But we know this team can hit. The bullpen may become a concern though if you can’t even trust Kimbrel with a 2 run lead.
At times this season, Kimbrel looked fantastic. We have not seen that guy in at least 3 months though. Even his scoreless outings this postseason were full of anxiety. Alvarado can be trusted. Matt Strahm can be trusted as well. As can Jeff Hoffman. Seranthony Dominguez is a bit of a question mark. And now after tonight, Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto, and Orion Kerkering are a bit hard to trust. Soto and Kerkering struggling you could get past. But if this is who Kimbrel is going to be, the Phillies have a problem. Not a problem impossible to overcome, but a problem all the same.
Zack Wheeler takes the mound for the Phillies tomorrow. They may not have many of their bullpen guys available though. Michael Lorenzen and Taijuan Walker were the only guys who didn’t pitch. And Alvarado and Hoffman pitched in both games. Luckily the DBacks are in a similar situation.
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