Los Angeles Dodgers remove Craig Kimbrel from narrower role, will use committee approach

LOS ANGELES — With less than two weeks left in their regular season, the Los Angeles Dodgers have removed Craig Kimbrel from their closest, a major development that will have a huge impact on their pitching team.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Friday that Kimbrel, 34, will take on different roles in his bullpen and will deploy a tighter committee approach, at least for the foreseeable future. Roberts hasn’t committed to continuing that strategy in the playoffs, but it seems very unlikely the team will pivot again with October just around the corner.

“Right now the plan is to switch roles and put him in a pitching position in different innings and different situations,” Roberts said of Kimbrel. “He was very open to doing what was best for the ball club. I feel good and we’ll see where that takes us.”

The Dodgers acquired Kimbrel in a one-for-one trade that sent outfielder AJ Pollock to the Chicago White Sox on April 1, weeks after longtime closer Kenley Jansen signed with the Atlanta Braves. But Kimbrel, an eight-time All-Star and one of the greatest closers in history, hardly looked dominant.

He holds a 4.14 ERA and 1.34 WHIP in 57 appearances while posting a 27% strikeout rate and missing five of 27 save chances. His first one-point save didn’t come until mid-August.

The Dodgers bullpen has already lost Daniel Hudson for the season to an ACL injury and has only received five appearances from Blake Treinen, who is back on the injured list with ACL issues. right shoulder which had kept him out since April. Hudson, Treinen and Kimbrel were expected to form the Dodgers’ final line before the start of the season.

With all three out of the mix, Evan Phillips, who has a 1.24 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 58 innings, could have plenty of opportunities in the ninth inning. The likes of Brusdar Graterol, Chris Martin, Tommy Kahnle and southpaw Alex Vesia could also be considered.

Roberts was asked what he would think of a closer committee approach in October.

“It’s kind of the mindset of just the fact that we’ve always done something in a way that doesn’t make it right,” he said. “It may not be traditional, but I don’t care too much about it.”

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