Sep 9, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) throws a pitch during the ninth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Braves Fredi Gonzalez Brings In Craig Kimbrel In The 8th...Why??


Twitter was going insane on Thursday night when they saw Craig Kimbrel run out of the bullpen with the bases loaded and the game tied in the 8th inning against the Red Sox.  The tweets were going fast but for the most part it seemed like Braves Nation enjoyed the call made by Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez.  But why I ask?

Prior to tonight, Kimbrel only had four previous games where he was in the game for more than one inning.

June 15, 2010 - Against the Tampa Bay Rays in Kimbrel’s rookie season down 10-3, he comes in to pitch two innings and doesn’t allow a run.

April 21, 2011 - Comes in to pitch the 9th inning but blows the save against the Dodgers.  He pitches the 10th inning mad and strikes out the side.

September 5, 2012 - Kimbrel is on the mound for the final out of the 8th inning against the Rockies to strike out Jordan Pacheco.  Then was back on the hill in the 9th inning to pick up the save.  He struck out the side in the 9th inning.

August 25, 2013 - Came in against the Cardinals in the 8th inning with two outs to get out Yadier Molina.  Gets three quick outs in the 9th to pick up the save.

Those games above were completely different than what we saw on Thursday.  Kimbrel came into the game in the 8th inning with the game TIED!  Not a save situation, not a chance to win but a chance to not lose the game in the 8th inning.

Kimbrel was asked after the game whether it bothered him or not coming in prior to the 9th inning.  He responded with “No it didn’t bother me, what bothered me was the lead off walks.”

The only reason I can come up with to why Fredi brought Kimbrel into the game was that Craig was warming up in the bullpen and Fredi didn’t want to sit him after he was already warmed up.

“You put him in a situation where you bring him in for the 8th inning and maybe it was a thing where sitting down and getting back up wasn’t conducive but we had to try it,” Fredi said after the game.  I thought the situation called for our big game pitcher and he did a nice job getting Ross with the bases loaded but maybe that sitting time hurt him”.

Craig took his first loss of the season.

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  • Lee Trocinski

    There is nothing wrong with that move. He was the best chance to get out of the 8th unscathed, which he did. Otherwise, there is no bottom of the 9th and everyone yells at Fredi for not bringing him in. If you can’t throw quality strikes, even with Kimbrel’s stuff, you’re not going to succeed. It’s been an entire team fail this week, so 2nd-guessing really does no good.

    • aRunning_Maniac

      This. Bases loaded and the game is on the line. That’s about as high-leverage as it gets. Bringing in Kimbrel was absolutely the right move.

  • fireboss

    Because it was the right thing to do. As Lee points out the game was on the line and losing with anyone else would have resulted in the same cries we heard when he didn’t use him last October. The problem he had was he’d already used Carp and Wood went 2 2/3 last night. Once he used Avilan and then needed a RH Kimbrel was the only real choice. This was the night we missed Walden. The real problem was the dropped ball in center – I don;t blame Justin for the wall ball, that wall baffles outfielders who play there more often than he. Then two walks and CJ throw to TLS was low – catchable but low and tailing away – and they won.
    Minor did his job but the bullpen and the defense failed. Honestly I was taking the 5th as the inning we’d give the runs back but they only took one then. This series – the last 10 games or so really – have been badly played and somewhat oddly managed. The thing is this in the group who will win or lose, I can’t see FW and compnay making any move significant enough to change the dynamic. If TLS flops they may swap for a 2nd baseman but I don;t expect that to happen. Anything else will be minor and not impactful

    • Jeff Schafer

      Game tied, David Hale still in the bullpen (who had a day off on Wednesday), as our long relief man, I’m putting Hale in there. No point of putting our closer in the game at this time to get us tied heading into the 9th. Especially since we turn right around and play a team we are tied with for first place this weekend.

      Putting your closer into a game with a non-save opportunity seems to never work out for any team in the MLB.

      I’m not a fan of 2nd guessing someone because I feel what’s done is done but I started doing research when Fredi looked to the pin and Kimbrel ran out

      • Alan Brown

        As far as I’m concerned, they lost the game early when they had (at least twice) runner on third with less than two outs and couldn’t get the ball out of the infield. All the other stuff about the poor fielding, etc is true too. As much as the Braves have frustrated me over the years, I can’t remember a time when they looked so fundamentally unsound. They always had good defense and didn’t beat themselves. Worse looking first place team I have ever seen. They look lost.

      • fireboss

        Hale isn’t striking anyone out and in his last appearances has been wild when entering. If we had Walden that would have been fine but as much as I like Hale I don’t like him in that spot.

      • hoIoh

        You seem to have all of the right answers. Maybe the Braves should hire you as their manager and you can see if your amazing ability to point out when a decision goes bad in hindsight translates to making decisions in real time. LOL.

        • Jeff Schafer

          Lol…me or Fred?

  • Joseph Fain

    This team seems to really lack focus. The inconsistent (or consistently shitty approach at the plate) and unexplainable errors (like BJ’s miss on the ball to center) all point to a malaise that strikes me as fairly toxic. The last couple of innings last night were a shit show.

    • fireboss

      Bj is prone to those misses. I can recall 4 so far this year which is about 1 every 12 games. All the talk about him being a GG CF is hyperbola. He’s above average and makes up for mistakes with speed but he makes a bunch of mistakes.

  • Ryan Cothran

    Agree with the move. It’s an easy decision IMO. He’s the best bullpen arm on the team and that was as high leverage as it gets.