Craig Kimbrel struggled mightily to begin the postseason, allowing five runs in 5 1/3 innings over his first four appearances in the ALDS and ALCS.
He has righted the ship, tossing three consecutive scoreless outings since he gave up a run in Game 4 of the ALCS and was on the brink of allowing the Astros to tie the game in what was an incredibly dramatic finish.
Manager Alex Cora told reporters Kimbrel was tipping his pitches and was getting hit hard because of it. Then 2003 Cy Young winner and former relief ace Eric Gagne pointed out how he was telegraphing his curveball.
It just so happened Kimbrel was pulling his glove tighter to his beard when he was going to his breaking pitch. Cora let Kimbrel know and things changed.
But it was more than just about a glove’s closeness to the closer’s beard.
According to NBCS Boston, the Astros had an easier time in the ALCS laying off pitches because Kimbrel’s command was off. They probably weren’t as in tune to the tipping of the pitches as people have been led to believe.
One note on the Kimbrel tipping: he probably was. But the Astros were laying off his curveball in larger part because he simply had no command, as it was explained to me. The tipping was real, but is probably getting overblown. Command was biggest issue
Since Game 4 of the ALCS, Kimbrel has walked just one batter in three scoreless, hitless innings. He walked five in his previous four outings.
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Kimbrel threw strikes on 55.4 percent of his pitches in those first four outings. Since then he has found the plate 72.2 percent of the time.
The tipping of the pitches angle may be true, but there is clearly more to the story than where Kimbrel held his glove in proximity to his face.
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