Philadelphia – Craig Kimbrell He knows what it takes for a team to win a World Series—and he sees that potential in the 2023 Phillies Championship.
Kimbrel, introduced by the Phillies on Thursday After signing an agreement for one year, was a closer for the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox. The Boston team—now managed by Phillies baseball operations chief Dave Dombrowski—had failed in both their 16 and 17 seasons.
“When I’ve seen a team fight hard and get to this point and then come a little later, I’ve been on enough of those teams to be able to say, ‘Hey, this team was good enough and it looks like they’re going to get that chance again.'” “When I look at the Phillies, that’s what I see. At this point in my career, I want to win championships – and this team can do that.”
Not only does Kimbrel want to help the NL champions take the next step, but he wants to be a part of the next iconic moment in town. Despite winning the Ring in Boston, Kimbrel did not participate in the deciding game of the 2018 World Series. Instead, it was Game 1 starter Chris Sale who scored the last three outs in Game 5 against the Dodgers.
“The next big picture every year is to be the last team in the field,” said Kimbrel, “and to be able to groan over whoever throws that last pitch. I don’t lie, I still want to throw that last pitch.” “It’s always been my goal. It’s something I dreamed of as a kid.”
However, Kimbrel didn’t make any promises as it related to the role of closer.
“Not to say [Kimbrel] “We’re not going to shut down the games or say it can’t happen,” Dombrowski said, “but it was important to discuss it beforehand.” We have quite a few players who can play with a one-round lead late in the game, which we think is very important.”
While Kimbrel has acknowledged that he’s open to being involved in any role, it’s hard to ignore his status as one of the best shutouts in MLB history. He is seventh on the all-time saves list with 394 and entered 2023 with a chance to join the 400-saves club, which includes only Mariano Rivera (652), Trevor Hoffman (601), Lee Smith (478), Francisco Rodriguez (437), John Franco (424) and Bailey Wagner (422).
“I would say I understand it’s a very great achievement, if I can pull it off,” said Kimbrell. “And I expect to get there. But I’m not focused on any number of saves or what position I’ll be in. I’m just focused on helping the team in whatever way I can and I think good things will come from that.”
Kimbrel is coming off the 2022 season posting a 3.75 ERA and was removed from the closing role by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in late September. This followed similar late-season struggles with the White Sox on the 21st.
Still, the Phillies came out of a meeting with Kimbrel—a meeting that included pitching coach Caleb Cotham and pitching development director Brian Kaplan, among others—confident they could overhaul the eight-time All-Star.
Kimbrel acknowledged that he was introduced to some mechanical issues after the season, and also mentioned that he learned some pitches in the past year that he plans to bring with him to Philadelphia.
Kimbrel said, “My goal, just as I do every year, is to show up and be my best and be the person everyone expects to see.” ourselves as we go into spring training and the season approaches.”
And if Thompson continues to post savings opportunities?
“I’m very OK with that. This game has changed and will continue to change. If I want to continue to be a part of it, that has to be part of the conversation, too,” Kimbrel said.
This is the same club mentality that helped the Phillies win the pennant in 2022. It’s an idea that Kimbrill believes will do even better in 2023.
“The goal is to win a world championship, and that’s all there is to it,” Kimbrel said. “If some other thing is achieved between them, I will be happier than anything else, but if not – if we can get on, that’s all that matters.”