Kimbrel gives the Braves peace of mind

When Billy Wagner limped off the field Friday night, I’m sure many of you were saying, “enough is enough.”  Now the Braves can only hope that enough doesn’t prove to be too much.

Without Chipper Jones, the Braves could lean on Martin Prado.  Without Jones and Prado, the Braves find themselves leaning on the hope that their pitching staff will require scoring just a couple of runs or that Giants closer Brian Wilson is asked to record six outs. 

Without Wagner, the Braves have lost the best closer they ever had not named Smoltz.  But with Craig Kimbrel already providing indication that he could soon fit in that elite category, they find themselves capable of surviving without Wagner. 

Manager Bobby Cox has said that he might also utilized Jonny Venters, Peter Moylan or Kyle Farnsworth in the closer’s role, based on the situation of the game.  But right now, Kimbrel legitimately stands as one of the game’s most impressive relievers. 

Dating back to Sept. 9 (when Kimbrel made his first appearance after the completion of Triple-A Gwinnett’s season) and extending through the end of the regular season,  Kimbrel and Wagner led the Majors (min. 10 IP) with 18.26 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Here’s how similar Wagner and Kimbrel truly were dating back to Sept. 9: 

Wagner: 11.1 IP, 4 H, 2 runs, 1 ER, 5 BBs, 23 Ks
Kimbrel:  11.1 IP, 4 H,  0 runs, 5 BBs, 23 Ks.

Kimbrel obviously has nowhere near the valuable experience Wagner has acquired during his storied career.  But the 22-year-old right-hander certainly showed great poise while delivering those two scoreless innings in enemy territory to keep the game scored heading into the 10th inning Friday night. 

With Tim Hudson opposing Jonathan Sanchez this afternoon, the Braves will be looking to win a game that has proven pivotal in most other NLDS.

The team that has won Game 3 to claim a 2-1 series lead has gone on to win the NLDS 15 of 16 times.  Unfortunately for the Braves, the lone exception came after they won two of the first three games they played against the 2002 Giants.     

94 Comments

“Without Wagner, the Braves have lost the best closer they ever had not named Smoltz.”

Hmmmm, how quickly they forget. Do you remember this guy named Alejandro Peña? Steve Bedrosian? Neither are an absolute “best reliever” but neither is Wagner and Peña certainly shouldn’t be forgotten.

As to the current situation, ANYONE but Farnsworth. As both a Tigers and a Braves fan, Farnsworth has tormented me enough already. He has yet to find a lead that he couldn’t blow and I close my eyes in terror whenever he takes the mound.

Calls to john Rocker go unanswered….

Today’s lineup

Infante
Heyward
Lee
McCann
Diaz
Gonzo
Conrad
Ankiel
Hudson

Guess Bobby agrees with me

WTF BILL! ARE YOU WATCHING THIS?!

mdtree, Peña and Bedrosian were good, but I still take Wags over both of them.

Bill, I saw Diory in Gwinnett a lot this year – his hitting is vastly improved – as is his physical stature from 2009.

He has an excellent glove.

Acziffer – I agree with you – but am resigned that it won’t happen, and probably agree at this point that it shouldn’t. I was calling for Diory in the last several weeks of the regular season so that we could see where he was offensively – and for the obviously defensive reasons.

I believe they will play Brooks, Omar, Troy and Diory like they did on Friday night – BY COMMITTEE as needed. Brooks had a tough offensive game on Thursday, but who didn’t? I do agree with you in that I LOVE me some Brooks Conrad off the bench late with runners in scoring position.

Wagner is out until WS according to MB on Twitter.

Whah, Whah…….Brooks Conrad………Whaaaah. Nice turn Brooksy. It’s ok, they all love you again when you hit a game winner.

Saito is activated, approved by MLB

Timestamp is fail. Brooks makes yet another error. We can’t put Conrad in with a ground ball pitcher in.

Good thing Buster Posey wasn’t stealing 3rd…

Brooks is doing it now, just to piss you guys off. HA HA.

It’s working.

We may be screwed with Emmel calling balls and strikes.

OMFG. Ok, stretch your legs, Diory.

Brooks is killing them Barry. Very frustrating to watch this. 2 errors in 2 innings. Both relatively easy plays. I DON’T CARE WHAT THE ANNOUCERS SAID. THAT BALL SHOULD HAVE BEEN CAUGHT.

At some point, I see team leader mccann or even chipper telling bobby to go with Hernandez or Glaus!!!

Nothing personal Brooks, but it has gotten to your head…

I mentioned a while back that there had to have been a reason that Conrad spent so long in the minors or was best projected as a bench player. For a while it looked like I was gonna be proven wrong, but here we are.

Why does Bobby Cox stay with this guy. Its going to kill the Braves in the end.

Oh no, the peanut gallery is here now.

You know what’s gonna kill the Braves is that they can’t hit their way out of a paper bag.

This is true. Even if we started nine Gold Glovers, it wouldn’t matter if they don’t hit.

7 errors in 6 games? If he was an “everyday player” he’d have 130 errors this season. Bill, you should be in the scouting department. They clearly can’t evaluate talent. They need your help.

Gonzo showing how it’s done w the glove.

Bobby’s not gonna make 9 innings. Emmel is a joke.

Bobby’s not gonna make 9 innings. Emmel is a joke. Wonder how much an umpire costs these days????

He was gonna call Ankiels HR foul but he didn’t have the call.

Hudson gets the Braves 1st hit and he may be the best defensive player on the field. Kind of pathetic, huh?

Even I wouldn’t have sent Brooks out there in the ninth with a 1 run lead. Bobby is senile. What a closing story this may write.

Goddam web site, been trying to get on for 20 min. Bobby F’ed Up Brooks should never have been in there in the 9th with a 1 run lead, Kimbrel should never had to throw that slider and Kimbrel should have stayed in. Let’s hope the magic ain’t over…….

They have them right where they want them. Small deficit late in the game. Too bad Brooks can’t come off the bench late and it for them.

They can’t waste this great outing by Hudson, especially with Lincecam coming back game 4 or 5.

On another note, what the heck is going on with Heyward? Swinging at bad pitches? No hits in 3 games?? I hope he is not injured. Maybe Gregor Blanco is out there as a FA??

I’m not sure if Hudson is the best fielder, but I’m quite sure who the worst fielder is.

He was out at 2nd on the steal. Way to go Huddy.

Tim Hudson needs to retire as a Brave.

Either Heyward is hurt and playing through it or trying to do too much and burying himself. Or maybe both.

Time to put this to bed.

phan52, he’ll be back later to argue with Brandon and Barry about something inconsequential.

Just heard Jim Powell say that Betty White is in attendance. Maybe she could play 2B?

Now would be good. Send Sanchez home without a win.

I joined this game late, but it seems that Sanchez is doing exactly the same thing as Lincecum. The Braves are letting good pitches go by and swinging at crap.

Why doesn?t Bobby Cox put Troy Glaus at 3rd base and Omar Infante at 2nd base? He should have done this when Prado got hurt! Please tell me why Bowman?? Do you think Glaus said something to Bobby? Does Bobby think Glaus faked his knee injury back in June? Your the reporter find out! And tell Bobby it’s his last chance to put Glaus in. Its your life Bobby.

Ok, 7th inning. Brooks needs to break out the bat and steal back the run he gave them.

Somebody give Brooksy a Snickers. He’s due up this inning.

Timestamps fail tonight.Tomorrow’s game 4, which was guaranteed to us. Do we dare start Hinske and Glaus in LF and 3B, respectively?

Yep, they take strike one, then swing at the pitcher’s pitch in the dirt. The reason they score more late is because once they get past the starter, they get more aggressive early in the count. I’d swear TP has a clicker in his hand counting pitches until they get the starter out of the game. I am also counting TP, counting the days until you get to watch they Braves on television like us.

It’s only a one swing lead, let’s flip it now.

Just saw the TV recap of Sanchez’s 11 strike outs. NOT ONE pitch swung and missed was a strike.

Savor it boys!

Thank you Mr. Hinske.

Ok, I guess it wil be Kimbrel in the 9th???

No Wags. Mad nervous.

Gotta love that ‘Skeeball. Lets go, Mike Dunn. Its all you. Just need one.

Bad to throw that slider for a strike. Should have thrown it off the plate.

GODDAMN YOU BOBBY! Why did he put in Dunn?! Huff hits lefties better than righties! How f*cking stupid do you have to be not to see that?

Come on Jason, that ball has to be caught.

ground ball ANYWHERE but 2B please.

Oh man..

Brooks Conrad = DFA. Sorry, but it will happen.

how many chances does he get?????

I was really wondering why Diory wasn’t put into the game.

I hate my life. Seriously. This is like kicking someone with two broken legs.

brooks has to go: billreef what say u?

we finally get a closer….he gets hurt. i’m reliving the 90s all over again.

This is on Bobby! I’m tired of kissing his *** because its his last season… he is an absolutely f*cking TERRIBLE manager. I dont care what ANY of you say. Kimbrel should have never been taken out. That was STUPID.

Came on just to see the brooksy hating… what a horrible game. He’s gotta go, he’s not mentally ready for this, his strikeouts at the plate are not worth the defensive liability.. sorry bill, it’s not about being right or wrong (to me, others on here act differently), its just the obvious truth.

Betty, are you there, Betty?

Brooks Buckner, I mean Conrad is the worst player I have ever seen. I never paid any attention to him before this series, but wow. I know the Braves are a light hitting team, but I’ve always respected their pitching and defense. Where did this guy come from and why does Bobby Cox leave him in?

Very poor move on the part of the Braves production staff. During the pitching change to bring in Farnsworth, they played the clip of Brooksy’s Grand Slam at bat. The crowd booed. Should have never done that. Bad form.

Brooks Buckner… hmm. You maybe be a philly fan, but thats a good name for him.

I’m not on here to hate on you guys, that’s a tough way to lose a lead. That guy should have gotten the hook before he had a chance to do that.

@philly – he’s not as bad as he looks right now, but he’s not a starter. That’s what happens when you have nobody better to put in when your whole infield gets injured. Not an excuse, just the facts.

Sorry guys, I feel bad for most of you. Tough way to lose. I just had to see if your class clown billreef was still defending Conrad.
Is he even going to show up after that? Too bad the guy who posts here more than anybody else knows absolutely nothing about baseball.

I fear that Brooks won’t ever recover from this if the Braves lose the series. That is a lot for anyone to handle emotionally.

Ok, so what does Troy Glaus or Eric Hinske have to do to get a start at 3B (and put Infante at 2B)? Well, I guess it really doesnt f*cking matter anymore. Thanks Bobby, you senile old *******.
Its strange that you guys arent here to rub it in our faces. Maybe there are some respectable Philly fans out there.

shaunson, if you have a dog, put him in the back yard before you kick him and hurt him.

Everyone will disagree with me on this, but to me, the turning point in that inning was Jason Heyward not coming as hard as he could to try to make a play on that base hit. I already spoke with bravomania – who I greatly respect about this, and he totally disagreed with me. I just don’t think the effort was there, and I think that ball could have been caught.

ANY other time ok, you let it fall in front of you. But the game was on the line – you make the effort. Stars make those plays.

Ever notice whenever Billreef thinks he’s been proven right he comes in with some snarky “sure is quiet in here” crap??? Where are you Bill? You sure are being quiet.
In all seriousness, nobody feels worse than Brooks. I hope he can bounce back from this. Best case scenario is he comes through for a big pinch hit in the next couple of games. I feel sick to my stomach right now… I can’t imagine how bad he feels. Maybe Ankiel can give him some encouragement from all the stuff he mentally went through.
I don’t see him being in the lineup tomorrow. Hopefully he can come through with a big pinch hit.

Brooksy, no need for a flu shot this year. You won’t catch it.

Timestamps fail tonight.Tomorrow’s game 4, which was guaranteed to us. Do we dare start Hinske and Glaus in LF and 3B, respectively?

Thats pretty funny barry… can’t catch a flu. Right now, about half of this team deserve to catch a fist to the chin. Mostly Bobby for taking the DOMINANT Kimbrel out for a guy with major control issues to face a guy that hits 50pts higher against lefties.
I’m not at all surprised that they won the only game Bobby didnt manage. And yes, I do believe he had absolutely nothing to do that win. He couldnt have… he’s a postseason cancer. The Hell with all of you who want to call me what you will.

did you let your dog out yet, shaunson?

Tried for an hour to post, when it got through it was 3 hours ago. This website is managed as well as the team.

Heard Bobby’s post game – basically said that if he leaves Kimbrel in and there is a double or a homer, your asking my why I didn’t put in the lefty. Said, “look, we gave up a walk and a base hit, and we can’t do that.”

He’s right you know. Kimbrel didn’t get it done. Should he have faced one more batter? With hind sight, ABSOLUTELY. Bobby made the decision – but he was forced into it.

I really wish Kimbrel had thrown STRIKES.

Also – Emmel killed us all night too. His calls on Jason Heyward in the nineth – Jason saw five pitches. Four of the five were out of the strike zone. 3 of those were called strikes.

http://www.brooksbaseball.net/pfxVB/pfx.php?s_type=3&sp_type=1&batterX=70&month=10&day=10&game=gid_2010_10_10_sfnmlb_atlmlb_1%2F&year=2010&pitchSel=451216&prevGame=gid_2010_10_10_sfnmlb_atlmlb_1%2F

can you help me out?!
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Can I help you out? Sure – the door is right over there.

This is not Kimbrel’s fault and its definitely not Dunn’s. I think it was mentioned on here that not one of the strikeouts was on a strike. That may be true, but pitching is deception and obviously we are easily tricked. We offer at way to many balls up in the zone which sets us up for balls in the dirt. We have not forced SF to pitch all series. They have dictated what we do and that is not sound baseball. To add to it, we have played horrible defense. Plus, we find someway to scratch back a lead and our glaringly weaknesses are our downfall. Make you wonder what would happen if Chipper, Prado, or Wagner (all or any combination of the 3) were available.
Lastly, Bobby may mess up but he’s not the worst manager ever as portrayed by some on this board. It’s easy to blame the guy filling out the lineup card. But I’m pretty sure Bobby didn’t call for a meat slider from Kimbrel, and he sure as heck didn’t make all of those errors in the field. He is a MANAGER, he manages people. He does a great job of that, unfortunately, over the past MONTH, his players have not performed.

Man, I haven’t ever seen more juvenile comments anywhere than were posted on the Braves blogs tonite(here included). I just got through reading DOB’s post game interviews and to a man, those players said that Brooks was their favorite teammate. I mean be mad at me, be mad about the game result, but get off the childish bandwagon and excoriating this fine young man. He needs every bit of support we can give him right now. I mean, have we turned into Phillies fans???? Come on guys, grow up.

Of course you can blame the errors on Conrad, and I am. And of course Bobby is in typical postseason form: couldnt manage his way out of a wet paper bag…
Has anyone noticed how Jason Heyward is playing like he’s being paid off? Lackluster defense. Only swinging at pitches way out of the strike zone. Watching perfect strikes go right down the middle. Not swinging at close pitches that ALWAYS end up strike 3. Then when/if he makes contact, its always a pop-up or a weak grounder to a middle infielder.

I guess we all know now why Brooks Conrad spent so much time in the minors.

Why has Bobby not placed Troy at 3rd and Infante at 2nd. It is the best choice now.

Childish bandwgon? WTF, billreef, this isn’t Little League. This is MLB, where these guys get paid to play. I don’t blame Braves fans one bit for taking Conrad to task. Cox too, for even having him in the game. Eight errors in his last seven games? Really?
Frankly, your defense of him is what is childish. Man up and admit you are way off base here. He cost your team a chance to have a closeout game at home. Now, even if you win, you have to face Lincecum in a game 5. I’m all for that, as a Phillies phan. We can’t lose because we get either the Braves or the Giants without Lincecum until at least game 3 in the NLCS. Go Braves!!

That would be the same compassion you have had for McLouth all season, right Bill? Brooks is a great guy, with a great family and a great story. Only a manager who knows he is retiring would even consider putting him in the starting line up tonight. I’ll be honest, if they even pinch hit him tonight the chances are pretty good that he tries to do too much and is ineffective at this point. He would have to be superhuman psychologically to be able to focus on the job at hand. That said, if he is in the lineup, or is used to pinch hit, I will be cheering for him as loudly as I ever have, probably more so.

Also, what an unceremonious way for the great career of Billy Wagner to end. I sure wish he would reconsider his retirement. He really seems to enjoy playing with this group, and there is no doubt he is still a quality closer.

One name from the Braves past to consider – Kelly Johnson. The Braves are so penny wise and pound foolish. Johnson had only 8 errors this season and a career year offensively. Braves fans all but rode him out of Atlanta. With Johnson, the Braves would have had Infante and/or Blanco coming off the bench. Instead, the Braves have Conrad coming off the bench. It seems obvious why this guy is a 30 year old rookie. With his limited skill set, the Braves put him in a position to fail. The real tragedy here is if Conrad had continued to be a pinch hitter he probably would have been able to extend his stay with the Braves for another year. As it is now, he is probably history after this year.

KJ had a reputation in Atlanta for not wanting the ball in a clutch situation. I.e., chanting to himself under his breath “don’t hit it to me, don’t hit it to me…” He had a knack for being the guy who made the big mistake that cost the Braves the game. In Arizona, there is no more pressure playing professional baseball for the Diamondbacks than there is playing PlayStation 3 games. This suits him much better than a spot on the Braves.

The Conrad situation certainly has the potential to be tragic for his career. I will not joke about it as it is a very bad turn of events for him. Dan Uggla seems to have overcome it. Some, like Chuck Knaublach and Steve Sax, have not.

Rother, why do you think that this is a very bad turn of events for him? If a baseball novice such as myself predicted this AS SOON AS Prado went down, don’t you think the Braves’ scouts knew it as well?

As I tried to point out to bill at the time – there are reasons a player stays in the minor leagues for so long. Players are evaluated on much more than statistics in games. They are also evaluated on skill sets that are determined by functional drills and schemes.

Brooksy is what he is – a really nice bench player who can hit reasonably well from both sides of the plate. His extreme value is that he produces (offensively) in the clutch. He is NOT an everyday player – as those players must play 9 innings day in and day out. Believe me – their deficiencies will be noticed if not (as in Brooks case) become glaring.

He has nothing to overcome. Knaublach, Sax and Ankiel (if I can add him) were PROVEN everyday players before their problems arose. The comparison is therefore not fair.

He just needs to settle back into the role that he is good in, that’s all. It is a manager’s job to put players in the right position to succeed. Brooks didn’t have a chance, and I hate to say it, because I am really not like this, but …. I told you so.

I was on record when Brooks first hit the scene as saying he had a rep for poor defense in Gwinnett, where I got to see every home game in 2009. He led the team in errors there as well. playing less than a full season as a non shortstop. The bad turn of events is that with this exposure on a national stage, he is not likely to get a job at all in the majors next season, and most certainly not with the Braves. Plus, he is being booed out of the stadium, even when they showed the walk off granny. That is tragic by any measure considering the way he pours his heart out on the field. It is sad to see this happen to a person like Brooks. An established veteran can survive this sort of thing, a 30 year old rookie is not likely to. If Cox has him in the lineup tonight, it is going to either be a lovefest of support, or a very ugly scene. I can’t see a lot of middle ground on this one.

I am hoping that Conrad is not in the lineup, but I will be cheering for him and not piling on if he is.

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