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When it comes to the biggest disappointment in Chicago Cubs spring training, look no further than Craig Kimbrel.
Even though the St. Louis Cardinals shocked the MLB world by trading for Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, the NL Central is still very much in play for the Chicago Cubs. Sure, they did trade Yu Darvish away to the San Diego Padres, but they did sign the likes of Jake Arrieta and Joc Pederson.
So far through spring training, Pederson has been the MVP. Through eight games, the former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder has hit five home runs and knocked in nine runs while batting .579. That is great to see if you are a Cubs fan. But if there’s one player on the squad that is the biggest disappointment of the MLB preseason, it is closer Craig Kimbrel.
Cubs: Craig Kimbrel getting shelled in Chicago’s spring training
After winning the World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, Kimbrel held out in free agency until he received a contract offer that he deemed fair to him. So, he signed with the Cubs midway through the 2019 season on a three-year, $43 million contract.
His first season with the Cubs ended with him carrying a bloated 6.53 ERA through 23 appearances. During the truncated campaign last year, Kimbrel lowered his ERA to an unimpressive 5.28. You would certainly think he would turn things around by the spring, right? Wrong.
In his first spring game against the Cleveland Indians on March 5, Kimbrel surrendered four earned runs on four hits, earned one strikeout and hit one batter with a pitch in an inning of work. On March 9 against the Oakland Athletics, Kimbrel gave up a solo home run to first baseman Matt Chapman, but exited the inning relatively unscathed. Then, there was this past Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Kimbrel gave up four earned runs on two hits and walked two batters before being pulled with two outs to his credit.
So with those three games logged, Kimbrel owns an ERA of 30.38 and a WHIP of 3.38 this spring. Yikes.
Look, if a player struggles in spring training, you do not usually make a big deal about it. But with Kimbrel, he has struggled since he arrived in the Windy City. These three outings this preseason did not help matters, as the team heads into a rather important season. You can expect Cubs fans to grind their teeth stressfully when they see Kimbrel take the mound this regular-season.