Craig Kimbrel struggles in return from right shoulder issue, apologizes for reaction to being pulled

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Craig Kimbrel was called on Saturday for the first time since complaining of discomfort in his shoulder last Monday. The appearance did not go smoothly.

Kimbrel hit Mets outfielder Eric Young Jr. with a one-out pitch, yielded a single to Daniel Murphy, a double to David Wright, a two-out single to Chris Young, and then walked Lucas Duda. Atlanta’s ninth-inning lead had shrunk from 7-3 to 7-5, and after the free pass to Duda manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to pull his struggling closer, who had thrown 24 pitches.

Kimbrel was visibly upset as Gonzalez stepped out of the dugout and appeared to express that directly to the skipper as he moved toward the mound. Jordan Walden came on and neeedd just three pitches to pick up the save, which left Kimbrel feeling bad about the way he acted toward Gonzalez after the game.

MLB.com has a good video mashup of the pitching change and Kimbrel’s postgame interview:

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”