Padres Editorial: Is Craig Kimbrel Tipping His Pitches?

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Mandatory Credit: Getty Images
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images

When the San Diego Padres upgraded their offense with the likes of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Derek Norris, Padres fans rejoiced. After the teams free agent acquisition of James Shields, it became evident that the team was serious about competing. Easter Sunday came along and with the Padres waiting for their first game of the year in Los Angeles, verses the Dodgers, a new trade took place.

Arguably the best closer in the game, Craig Kimbrel was acquired from the Atlanta Braves on that day. When this news broke, I believe most Padres fans were in absolute shock. The Padres team traditionally does not work like this to improve their team. To go out an essentially build a competitive team via trade and free agency in one off-season is unheard of. The Padres currently sit at .500, poised to make a run at the National League Wild Card. The team hasn’t played all that well, but it’s exciting because they are still within grasp of the playoffs.

The ERA of Craig Kimbrel is currently 5.74 and his WHIP is currently at 1.340. Those numbers are a far cry from his career numbers of 1.65 ERA and 0.926 WHIP. Kimbrel does have 11 saves and has only blown one game so far this season. When the Padres acquired Kimbrel they in no way envisioned his ERA to be that inflated at any point during the season. The whole idea is really mind-boggling.

Last night Chris Coghlan took Kimbrel deep in the ninth inning and his ERA continued to climb. Thankfully for the Padres, the solo shot did nothing to help the Chicago Cubs as the Padres had a two run lead. Derek Norris once again came up big with a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Still very troubling to see Kimbrel get taken deep and once again allow an earned run to score. In 15.2 innings pitched this season, Kimbrel has allowed 16 hits. Last season in 61.2 total innings he allowed 30 hits. That’s half the amount of hits, in a quarter of the season. Something just isn’t right. Players are getting better swings on Kimbrel despite the fact he is still throwing 98 MPH with a nasty curve to boot.

To me, something is a miss. Players should not be taking the swings off Kimbrel they presently have been. I wonder if he is tipping his pitches some how. The major league ball player looks for every advantage they can get. If they see something in a pitchers delivery, then word spreads very quickly around the league. The Padres should look into this in an effort to get Kimbrel’s season turned around. Just a thought.

Baseball is a game about averages. The law of averages seem to rule in most cases. With a career ERA at 1.65, Kimbrel is bound to have about 20 inning of scoreless ball pitched. I can almost guarantee that fact. His track record, and the fact he is totally healthy leads me to make that assumption. He is too good not to get better. Teams are just getting lucky up to this point. That is, if they aren’t getting a competitive advantage by knowing what is coming before he throws it.

If a player knows to look for a fastball they can surely square it no matter what the speed is. Even if said fastball is 98 MPH. Also, if they know a curve is coming, they can easily lay off of it. Looking at some of the at bats this season off Kimbrel, batters just look too comfortable off the right-handed flamethrower. Perhaps it is just a conspiracy theory, but we at East Village Times are exploring all the possible answers. Either way Kimbrel should be able to easily turn things around and when the season is over, his ERA will be back down to where it belongs.

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