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Inconsistent Craig Kimbrel will no longer be close as Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) walks off the pitchers mound.

Dodgers relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel walks off the mound on Aug. 30 against the Miami Marlins. (Marta Lavandier/Associated Press)

Craig Kimbrel is no longer a close buddy of the Dodgers.

There. Dave Roberts said so Friday. finally.

This sentence came smugly, and paused thoughtfully, but it came anyway.

“That’s what I’m thinking right now, well, I’m going to let Craig down tonight,” Roberts said. “My expectation is, yes, I spoke to him today. The plan now is to change the role and allow him to pitch in different innings in different situations.

“He is very willing to do whatever is best for the club. So I feel good about it and we’ll see where this takes us. “

Kimbrel gave up a homer in the ninth inning Thursday to give the Arizona Diamondbacks a one-point lead. The Dodgers won in the Mookie Betts’ off-field single, That gives Kimbrel the win.

However, the 34-year-old Kimbrel has blown away five of his 27 saves and has a 4.14 ERA in 57 appearances this season. Turned over just 12.1 percent of pitches, about the league average. However, he ranks seventh all-time with 394 saves over 13 seasons and leads the league in four straight years through 2014.

Maybe that’s why Roberts and the Dodgers management have stuck with him for so long, even though his efficiency has waned significantly from his heyday.

Dodgers relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel delivers against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.

Dodgers relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel vs. Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.(Mark J. Terrill/AP)

Roberts said he appreciated the way Kimbrel accepted the news that he was no longer a loved one.

“He was so professional and knew there were More, more consistency, just the openness to do what’s best,” he said. “My job is to find the best lane for him, and he doesn’t have to worry about changing what he’s been doing. He sees this as a challenge. That’s the way we’ve come to expect it, and it means a lot to him as a team player. “

Roberts said no one is going to be in a tighter role right now. Evan Phillips (6-3, 1.24 ERA), Brusdar Graterol (2-3, 2.96) and Alex Vesia (4-0, 2.26) is the obvious candidate.

“No, it’s discovery for us, it treats him like we treat all of us , put them in the best position possible,” Roberts said. “That’s how I’m going to handle the ‘pen’ of each inning. “

Phillips, 28, was the undisputed top bench player all season, giving up just 29 hits, striking out 68 in 58 innings, walking 14 innings .Although his value has always been putting out fires, he is clearly capable of getting closer.

Also, he has only 3 career saves, 2 this season Times. Phillips said he wouldn’t treat the ninth inning differently than anyone else.

I think the best thing you can do as a guy who’s out and done is to be consistent throughout the season,” he said.

However, the Dodgers face a situation where if the approach by committee fails, a new close must appear when the playoffs begin in two weeks. Phillips Listen It doesn’t look like it’s going to be intimidating.

“I don’t value the role as much as I do now,” he said. “I think [The Dodgers] ] really instilled in us that when the phone rings, you go out and play. So whatever the situation, it might be the ninth inning or a tight ball game, but you want to express it, and my challenge is, when the phone rings, I do my job. “

Kimbrel was probably used almost exclusively against right-handed hitters, who hit 0.208 with 0.603 batters to his batting percentage. The southpaw hit 0.266 with an OPS of 0.786.

Next steps for Tony Gonsolin

Roberts said the day after injured starter Tony Gonzolin pitched two innings in a mock game at Dodger Stadium, his soreness was normal and “that’s a good thing.” Say, Gonzolin plans to pitch two innings in Oklahoma City’s triple-A rehab game.

This This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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