The Atlanta Braves gave closer Craig Kimbrel the opportunity for the save on Saturday night. Back on the mound after missing a few days with a sore shoulder, Kimbrel struggled through a rare bumpy inning. Things got so ugly that manager Fredi Gonzalez came and took the ball from Kimbrel with two outs, a two run lead, and the bases loaded.
Kimbrel did not take the news well, barking at Gonzalez about not letting him finish the game. The 25-year-old closer spoke to reporters after the game and said that he knows he cannot act that way and that he has apologized to Gonzalez for his reaction.
As Kimbrel discussed in those comments, he felt like he was “all over the place.” If we consider the following graph of his pitch locations, we can confirm that Kimbrel was correct in his self-assessment.
Part of the challenge for Gonzalez, of course, is the fact that Kimbrel is the best closer in baseball and recently signed a rich $42 million extension. The economics of the situation might squeeze him as a manager in terms of making this call. He made it anyway, and luckily for him he has a closer with the level head to apologize for the outburst after the fact.