Streaking, dominant Kimbrel closing in on Feliz

With Craig Kimbrel’s 37th save of the season Thursday night against the Giants, he moved just four away from breaking Neftali Feliz’s major league record for saves in a season by a rookie.

He’s got Feliz in his sights now and doesn’t mind saying it’s a goal.

“If I get that chance it’s good, it means we’re playing winning baseball,” Kimbrel said Friday afternoon. “I don’t see why I wouldn’t because we are winning. I don’t want to blow any saves so…”

Kimbrel has some confidence and rightly so. He hadn’t blown a save since June 8 in Florida, entering the weekend series with Arizona. Since then he had gone 19-for-19 in saves during a scoreless streak of 28 2/3 innings, the longest active streak by a pitcher in the majors.

During that streak, Kimbrel has walked only eight batters, compared to walking 15 in his first 32 innings this season. That’s been a big factor in his transition from a rookie pitcher with a penchant for wildness to a dominant force.

“It’s just understanding I don’t have to try to throw it past everybody every pitch,” Kimbrel said. “Just try to throw strikes.”

That comment drew a “hmph” from teammate Brandon Beachy, a few lockers down, for a closer who leads the majors with 96 strikeouts in relief. The rookie with the 98-99 mph fastball does blow past hitters. But Kimbrel said the key is not trying to get a swing and miss every pitch.

“You can’t strike a guy out unless you’ve got two strikes on him,” Kimbrel said. “It’s understanding you don’t have to throw the nasty curveball in the dirt 0-0.”

17 comments Add your comment

LOB Braves

August 19th, 2011
8:19 pm

Kimbrel is awesome.

Joseph

August 19th, 2011
10:38 pm

Kimbrel now 3 saves away from breaking the record of former Brave farm-hand Feliz. How can there be anything but dual ROYs this year? Kimbrel and Freeman are equally deserving.

GOP Cannon

August 20th, 2011
12:23 am

Kimbrel is the best closer in Atlanta since Smoltz… our bullpen has been awesome this year! I am ready to watch some October baseball!

Easy Choice

August 20th, 2011
3:09 am

Looking like a no-brainer for the Cy Young Award: Craig Kimbrel

Another Clueless Braves Blogger

August 20th, 2011
8:43 am

Kimbrel is outstanding. BTW, Venters and O’Flaugherty (sp) not too shabby either! Most of the time, teams have to beat us in the first 6 innings. GO BRAVES!

Bill James

August 20th, 2011
8:46 am

Wow DOB, isn’t baseball is a game of stats…. how about a few numbers. Like how many saves Feliz had (40) and the record he broke (Suzuki, 37 saves, Seatlle 2002). What is the NL record he just broke (Todd Worrell, 36 saves, StLouis 1986 (was this even in the AJC?)).

BTW, Kimbrel is tracking for 47.5 saves. 48 saves would be a 5 way tie for 13th all time single season saves. 47 saves would 8-way tie him for 18th.

bvillebaron

August 20th, 2011
9:40 am

Easy:

Kimbrel is fantastic and he may be deserving, but he isn’t winning the Cy Young; that almost without exception goes to a starter and, frankly, in my book deservedly so.

Bream is SAFE!

August 20th, 2011
11:28 am

Imagine we had both…..like we should have.

Loyal Fan

August 20th, 2011
12:10 pm

I’d bet some of you same jokers were calling for his head the first month of the season when he had a few bad games. Thank got you’re not managing the Braves.

Bill James

August 20th, 2011
1:29 pm

DOB, I am sorry I am a jerk.

[...] Atlanta Braves [...]

Bill James' Ghost

August 20th, 2011
2:23 pm

D'oh

August 20th, 2011
3:23 pm

I have to admit I was a little nervous with Kimbrel when he had blown 4 saves early on. Happy to say I was wrong!

alexcox

August 20th, 2011
3:52 pm

sin duda mejor q el a~o pasado pero laos bravos le tienen q protejer el brasopra q sea duradero.por favor no leden la bola a linbranic martines sherill. y subir a JT y RD , seria el alma mortar para los playoff. los gigantes no saben lo q lepaso en la serie q tuvieron los otrs dias. hase falta bateador diestro para el banco WREN ESTA LENTO.

Nick p.

August 20th, 2011
4:18 pm

this is why i would never make it as a major league manager, lack of patience, i would have put venters in ninth and had kimbrel being a regular reliever due to his problems early in the season!

JusNasty....

August 20th, 2011
5:28 pm

Great find on the old article Bill James’ Ghost…Very interesting. Anyone else find it interesting that Kimbrel always licks his fingers then goes straight to his hat? Hmm..

"Chef" Tim Dix

August 20th, 2011
6:29 pm

Check the box the he gets the Wagner rule.

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