The Phillies signed Craig Kimbrel to a value one-year, $10 million deal this past offseason to help replace closer David Robertson, who left via free agency. He was coming off a solid season with the Los Angeles Dodgers in which he was 6-7 with 22 saves along with a 3.75 ERA. However, in the seasons prior to 2022, Kimbrel had struggled somewhat with ERAs above five, but the Phillies were willing to take the chance that they were getting a revamped, stronger version of the closer.
The investment in Kimbrel has definitely paid off for the ballclub as he showed the world once again that he was one of the premium closers in the league. He posted an 8-6 winning record with 23 saves, along with a 3.26 ERA and 1.04 WHIP for the 2023 season, all while guiding the Phillies successfully into the postseason.
However, there were some potential warning signs in his performance at the same time, as Kimbrel yielded 10 home runs, the most he had given up in a season in his 14-year career. More importantly, after going through the first half of the season unscathed, Kimbrel ended up blowing five saves, along with suffering five losses down the stretch during the second half of the season.
Fortunately for the Phillies, they still ended up winning three of the five blown games, so it didn’t end up affecting them too significantly. But Kimbrel’s inconsistency near the end of the season forced the Phillies to give way to trusted reliever José Alvarado to close out some important games down the stretch.
The fact that Kimbrel may have peaked during the 2023 season before losing some steam near the end of the year should make the Phillies think twice during the upcoming offseason on whether or not to re-sign the closer. If they are getting the first half version of Kimbrel, sure, sign us up. But if it’s the latter half version, it may be in the best interest of the Phillies to move on.
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