Typically, with any game on the line, in a save situation for the Atlanta Braves, closer Craig Kimbrel is the man that gets the nod to secure the win. That wasn’t the case Monday night in Philadelphia against the Phillies.
With the Braves clinging to a three-run lead entering the bottom of the ninth inning, instead of Kimbrel trotting out to the mound, manager Fredi Gonzalez sent David Carpenter.
The 28-year-old Carpenter notched his first save in a Braves uniform (the second of his career—his first coming with the Houston Astros in 2011) by inducing two ground balls and striking out Tony Gwynn Jr. The inning wasn’t perfectly clean as Carpenter walked Jimmy Rollins, but the Braves held on to their ninth-inning lead for the win.
But why wasn’t Kimbrel sent in for the save? The last time Kimbrel pitched was Saturday, when he notched his fifth save of the season against the Washington Nationals. He wasn’t being rested.
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Turns out Kimbrel’s nursing a sore right shoulder, which is what Gonzalez told the media after Atlanta’s 9-6 win over Philadelphia Monday.
Sore right shoulder for Kimbrel. Day to day. #Braves— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) April 15, 2014
Fredi says Kimbrel's shoulder soreness crept up over the weekend. Doesn't think it's serious. #Braves— Kevin McAlpin (@KevinMcAlpin) April 15, 2014
Gonzalez isn’t worried about Kimbrel’s day-to-day status, and Kimbrel echoed those sentiments when he spoke to the media.
Kimbrel said there wasn’t any part of his shoulder that was hurt, per se, but his situation was more about normal soreness that every pitcher goes through. Kimbrel did touch on a bit of potentially scary news when he said the soreness he’s going through now can be traced all the way back to spring training.
A few days off might be exactly what’s needed. Since Saturday was Kimbrel’s last outing, he’s now had two complete days of rest. How many days “a few” means is anyone’s guess, but with the rash of injuries that has plagued the Braves staff over the last four to five weeks, expect Gonzalez to be cautious with his closer’s return to duty.
If Carpenter can keep closing the door in the ninth inning like he did on Monday, the Braves will feel comfortable making sure Kimbrel is the epitome of health before he climbs back out onto the mound.