Kimbrel gets back on track
Like many of the other members of the “A-List” Yankees, Cameron Diaz didn’t make an appearance at Disney this afternoon. But a couple blasts from the past — Tom Glavine and Craig Kimbrel’s smile — were spotted on the grounds at one point today.
Looking back on this afternoon’s 5-4 loss to the Yankees, the most encouraging development was obviously the perfect ninth inning tossed by Kimbrel. Yes, it was against three Minor Leagers and no, it wasn’t exactly picture-perfect dominance.
But this was the kind of clean outing Kimbrel needed to gain some of the confidence he was unable to gather in his first three appearances. Also in the process of the blanking the Yankees, the young reliever might have gained a feel for his curveball, which he struggled to command in his first three outings.
Kimbrel threw just two curveballs and they came in succession to start Doug Bernier’s at-bat. But it was obvious the young hurler was encouraged when he described the first pitch breaker to Bernier as “probably the best curveball that I’ve thrown all Spring.”
Kimbrel’s fastball touched 96 and after missing the strike zone with his first three pitches, he found adequate command and finished the outing in clean fashion.
As long as he starts to consistently command his curveball, Kimbrel should be fine. Jonny Venters is likely capable to handle the closer’s role.
But to be at their best, the Braves need Kimbrel to take care of their late innings with the dominant form he had last year.
Jair Jurrjens certainly wasn’t impressive while allowing four earned runs and six hits (four in a span of six batters) in four innings today. But he and Fredi Gonzalez believe he might have been predictable with either his delivery or pattern of pitches.
The Yankees recorded four stolen base attempts in Jurrjens’ four innings. Jurrjens said he might have become too predictable by only throwing offspeed pitches with a 1-1 count.
Whatever the case, Jurrjens has plenty of time to make necessary changes, whether mechanical or strategical, to protect against the running game. But he might need to make some changes to whatever has caused him to allowed nine hits and six earned runs in the seven innings that have encompassed his past two starts.
Jurrjens said he the ball felt better coming out of his hand Tuesday and the radar gun seemed to confirm with readings that rested around 90-91 and topped out at 93 mph.
There shouldn’t be much concern about Jurrjens. When he needed to win a roster spot before the 2008 season, he was sensational in the exhibition season. But about six months before he ended the 2009 season with the NL’s third-best ERA (2.60), I remember seeing him get hit around the yard in a simulated game by a couple of 19-year-old kids named Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman.
That’s all for today. See ya tomorrow.