Braves Kimbrel Becoming Dominant Closer
In 2011, Braves reliever Craig Kimbrel set the major league rookie record for saves with 46. He added more than forty saves last year as well.So it appears the hard-throwing right hander is turning into a dominant closer.
Game over should be Kimbrel's nickname. 42 saves in 45 chances last year. Even Kimbrel cant believe it. "I never dreamed I would be in the big leagues. So just having the chance to be here. To go out and just take one game at a time. That's all I really do."
His overall numbers are something you only dream of. An ERA of 1.01 of last season, and he averaged nearly two strikeouts an inning. Said Braves General Manager Frank Wren,"He has turned into the best closer in the game. He came with that closer mentality where he expected to get the job done. Great stuff. Great work ethic."
And Kimbrel credits his teammates for developing that closer mentality. "I give a lot of credit to my catchers. Ross and McCann have done a great job in the last few years calling pitches for me. I can't say that I do a lot of pitch selections while I'm out there on the mound."
Kimbrel has logged a lot of innings, but he doesn't believe he's wearing down."I felt great towards the end of last year, and I feel great right now."
This year, Kimbrel will play in the World Baseball Classic in March. He'll miss two weeks of spring training, but the Braves aren't concerned. Said Wren,"He thinks it could even be an advantage for him because he didn't feel like he was as sharp in April last year as he wanted to be. This might get him sharper earlier by going to play in the WBC. Watch out for the National League if that happens."