Craig Kimbel is out as closer for the major league-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
After months of defending him, manager Dave Roberts said going forward Kimbrel will be used in different innings and different situations over the final two weeks of the regular season. He said no one is replacing Kimbrel in the ninth.
“It might not be traditional, but I’m not too concerned about it,” Roberts said.
He was noncommittal about Kimbrel’s situation in the postseason. The Dodgers (104-46) have already clinched the NL West title. They’ll open the playoffs at home on Oct. 11.
Kimbrel has struggled in his first season in Los Angeles, where he replaced Kenley Jansen after the veteran closer signed with Atlanta in the offseason. The righthander has a 6-6 record and a 4.14 ERA. Over 13 seasons with six different teams, Kimbrel has a 2.33 career ERA.
“He was very open to doing whatever is best for the ballclub,” Roberts said. “He more looks at it as a challenge and that’s the way that we would expect.”
Kimbrel is 22 for 27 in save chances, but the ninth has become a roller-coaster ride with fans booing at times.
Kimbrel got the victory against Arizona on Thursday despite hitting the leadoff batter, giving up a home run and walking another batter. The Dodgers rallied in the bottom of the ninth to pull out a 3-2 win.
His 394 career saves lead all active pitchers and is seventh all-time.
“I can’t predict the future,” Roberts said. “All I know is that this moment in time he’s ready to embrace whatever role we have for him.”
Mariners lose rookie Julio Rodríguez to injured list, back strain
Seattle outfielder Julio Rodríguez, a leading candidate for the AL Rookie of the Year award, was put on the 10-day injured list because of a lower back strain.
The move came with Seattle holding the third and final wild-card spot, a half-game behind Tampa Bay and four games ahead of Baltimore. Outfielder Taylor Trammell was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma.
Rodríguez left Thursday’s win at Oakland in the first inning after experiencing back tightness. The 21-year-old leads rookies in home runs (27), runs scored (81), and total bases (251), and is second in RBIs (73) and stolen bases (25). He was the only rookie to be chosen an All-Star this season.
Rodríguez was replaced in center field by Jarred Kelenic for Seattle’s game at Kansas City. Third baseman J.P. Crawford took Rodriguez’s accustomed leadoff spot in the batting order.
Twins run up the white flag, shut down Byron Buxton for knee surgery
Minnesota outfielder Byron Buxton won’t return this season and will have surgery on his troublesome right knee.
Derek Falvey, Minnesota’s president of baseball operations, provided an injury update on Buxton and several other Twins players before the start of the homestand Friday against the Los Angeles Angels. After Minnesota went 1-7 on its road trip and fell out of contention in the AL Central, the team made the decision to shut down Buxton for the year.
Buxton, who was named an All-Star for the first time this season and hit 23 homers in 73 first-half games, has been out since Aug. 23 due to a right hip strain. But the knee has continued to be an issue and Falvey said Buxton will have an arthroscopic “cleanup” surgery to alleviate some scar tissue and fraying.
“The reality is he doesn’t have any tears in his knee,” Falvey said. “He has some inflammation, he has some scar tissue, he has some kind of what ends up building up over time if you have tendinitis, which is kind of fraying areas of some of those ligaments. ... It’s to clear that out.”
“So, what ends up typically happening is the scar tissue and otherwise creates more of that inflammation when you pound on it. So, now let’s clear out some of that and hopefully that’ll alleviate some of that stress going forward,” he said.
A date for Buxton’s surgery has not been set, but it will likely be next week to set him up for nearly a full offseason.
Falvey said Buxton’s hip is feeling better and will improve with rest. The knee, and the combination of the two, ultimately led to ending Buxton’s season. He finished with a .224 average, 28 homers, 51 RBIs and six steals in 92 games.
The team had held out hope Buxton would return this season, but Minnesota started Friday 10 games behind Cleveland in the division and 9½ games out of the final wild-card spot.
“I think once we got to a certain point over the last kind of week or so, and we were working through what the best next steps were, if we were in a slightly different position, we would maybe push this off a little further because in reality, the return for him is not going to be particularly long,” Falvey said.
“So whether we do it next week or we do it two weeks, three weeks from then, he’s only going to be down for a few weeks of time before he can start doing some activity again,” he said.
The team had given Buxton routine days off to manage the ongoing knee trouble. He sustained the hip injury on Aug. 22 diving for a ball.
Buxton, who signed a seven-year, $100 million contract in the offseason, has played more than 100 games just once in his eight-year career.
Orioles pitch past Astros again
Dean Kremer pitched a four-hitter, Adley Rutschman homered, and Baltimore kept themselves squarely in the playoff hunt by defeating Houston, 6-0. Baltimore started the day trailing Seattle by four games in the race for the third and final AL wild-card spot. It was the third straight impressive performance by an Orioles starter, following Jordan Lyles’s three-hitter against Detroit and Kyle Bradish pitching into the ninth inning of a shutout against AL West-leading Houston on Thursday night. Baltimore has 15 shutouts this season — its most since 1992 — including three against the Astros (99-53), who need eight more wins to match the franchise single-season record, set in 2019 . . . Riley Greene’s sacrifice fly drove in a tiebreaking run in the seventh inning and Detroit handed the fading Chicago White Sox their fourth straight loss, 5-3. Eduardo Rodriguez (4-5) gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings to improve his career mark against the White Sox to 3-0 . . . Rhys Hoskins homered and drove in four runs, Aaron Nola pitched six shutout innings, and host Philadelphia beat Atlanta, 9-1, for their third straight victory. Alec Bohm had three hits for the Phillies, who maintained their 2½-game lead over Milwaukee for the third NL wild card . . . Andrew McCutchen drove in three runs, passing 1,000 RBIs for his career, and Milwaukee beat Cincinnati, 5-3. McCutchen put the Brewers ahead to stay when he drove in Rowdy Tellez with a fielder’s choice in the fifth inning. The five-time All-Star made it 5-2 with a two-run double in the seventh, running his total to 1,002 RBIs. Milwaukee (81-70) earned its third consecutive win . . . Major League Baseball has suspended three minor league pitchers after they tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Melvi Acosta, a 27-year-old righthander with Minnesota’s Triple-A affiliate, was suspended for 80 games without pay after testing positive for Stanozolol. Acosta played for three minor league teams this year, going 3-1 with a 3.61 ERA in 26 appearances. Jendersson Caraballo, a 22-year-old righthander on the roster for the Dominican Summer League White Sox, received a 60-game suspension for testing positive for Stanozolol. Braudin Ciprian, a 21-year-old righthander on the roster with the Dominican Summer League Brewers, also was suspended for 60 games after testing positive for Stanozolol. There have been 44 players suspended this year under the minor league drug program, versus seven under the major league program.