Kimbrel worked a scoreless ninth inning to notch his second save of the season Saturday in the Cubs' 4-2 win over the Brewers. He gave up two hits and struck out one in the 26-pitch appearance. With scoreless outings in 10 of his last 11 appearances to go with a 22:7 K:BB in 10.1 innings over that span, Kimbrel appears to have re-entered manager David Ross' circle of trust. While he wasn't at his sharpest Saturday, Kimbrel did well to limit the damage after giving up back-to-back singles to kick off the bottom of the ninth. Jeremy Jeffress still looks like Chicago's top end-game option with a sub-1.00 ERA and seven saves in eight chances on the season, but Kimbrel's strong form of late may have allowed him to move ahead of Rowan Wick on the closer depth chart.
Kimbrel allowed a hit and struck out two in a scoreless inning of relief Wednesday against the Reds. Kimbrel worked the ninth inning, though it wasn't a save situation with the Cubs down 3-0. While the veteran reliever still has an unsightly 7.36 ERA, he's now posted three straight scoreless innings with six strikeouts since giving up two runs and blowing a save on Aug. 29. Jeremy Jeffress and Rowan Wick have taken over closing duties in Chicago, but if Kimbrel can continue to pitch well, he could still see some high-leverage duty as the Cubs move toward the postseason.
Kimbrel (0-1) took the loss and the blown save in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader against Cincinnati, pitching two-thirds of an inning and allowing two runs on one hit and three walks while striking out a pair. Kimbrel entered the contest on a five-outing scoreless and hitless streak. He was called upon to protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the final frame but yielded a pair of walks and a single to allow the Reds to tie the game. Kimbrel then loaded the bases with an intentional walk, and Cincinnati subsequently walked off with a win as the result of a wild pitch Kimbrel uncorked while facing Jose Garcia. The outing was a microcosm of Kimbrel's season thus far -- he has allowed only seven hits while striking out 15 batters over eight innings, but his ERA sits at an ugly 10.13 thanks largely to 12 walks and four wild pitches.
Kimbrel hit a batter but struck out the side in a scoreless inning to earn the save in the Cubs' second game of a doubleheader Wednesday against the Cardinals. Kimbrel was called upon to protect a two-run lead, and he turned in a vintage performance to record his first save of the season. The only blip came when he hit Tommy Edman with a pitch, the third batter of the inning. Aside from that, Kimbrel showed improved control, finding the zone with 13 of his 20 pitches while also generating five called strikes and two swinging strikes. Both Rowan Wick and Jeremy Jeffress have served in the closer role since Kimbrel's early struggles, though it's possible that Kimbrel can regain the role, particularly if he can repeat this success.
Kimbrel allowed two earned runs on two hits while retiring just a single batter in a 5-4 win over the Royals Tuesday. Leading 5-2, the Cubs decided to let Kimbrel get another shot at the ninth inning, but after allowing a single and a double sandwiched around a strikeout, the veteran got the hook. Kyle Ryan allowed both inherited runners to score but hung on for the save. Kimbrel now has a 32.40 ERA this season, and at this point, it's hard to see him getting many more save opportunities in the near future. Rowan Wick and Jeremy Jeffress figure to benefit.