It’s old hat now, but Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is once again threatening to post a sub-1.00 ERA. He’s at 0.94 after pitching a scoreless inning for his 44th save Tuesday against the Mets.
Kimbrel finished last year at 1.01.
There was actually some concern about Kimbrel after he got off to a rough start this spring and took a loss to the Dominican Republic while pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Struggling to find his breaking ball, he wasn’t quite his usual self at the beginning of the regular season, either; he blew three saves in the first five weeks, with his ERA peaking at 3.38 on May 7.
Of course, Kimbrel has allowed all of one run in the nearly four months since. He’s also converted 34 straight save chances.
Kimbrel’s 1.01 ERA last year was the 13th lowest all-time among pitchers to throw at least 50 innings. Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney actually set the record last season, coming in at 0.60 to beat out Dennis Eckersley’s 0.61 mark from 1990.
There’s no way Kimbrel is going to top that, but if he keeps putting up zeroes, he’ll likely end up in the 0.80-0.85 range.
That might not be the low mark of 2013, though. Pirates reliever Mark Melancon is at 0.88 at the moment. Both he and Kimbrel have allowed six earned runs, but Melancon tops him in innings 61 1/3 to 57 2/3.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.