For the second straight NLCS game, Phillies reliever Craig Kimbrel squandered a late-inning situation and took the loss on Friday night. As a partial consequence of Kimbrel's struggles, a 2-0 Phillies lead over the Diamondbacks in the best-of-seven series is now a 2-2 deadlock ahead of Saturday night's Game 5.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson was asked about Kimbrel's standing in the bullpen mix for the defending NL champions following the Phillies' 6-5 loss on Friday night. "We've got to talk about it," Thomson said when asked about a possible role change for Kimbrel moving forward. "Do you put him in a little lower-leverage spot? I don't know. I'll talk to him with Caleb [Cotham, pitching coach], talk through it, and see where we're at."
The 35-year-old Kimbrel came into Game 4 with an ERA of 6.75 for this year's NLCS with three walks allowed in 1 1/3 innings. Then in Game 4, he permitted three runs in 2/3 of inning, two of which came on Alek Thomas' two-run, game-tying, pinch-hit homer in the eighth. It marked the first blown save of Kimbrel's playoff career.
Kimbrel was effective during the regular season for the Phillies, as he pitched to a 3.26 ERA (132 ERA+) and a 3.36 K/BB ratio in 69 innings and converted 23 of 28 save opportunities.
However, his current struggles are what matters, and those may lead to some changes in how Thomson protects any leads that come his way over the remainder of the postseason.