Braves closer Craig Kimbrel throws ungodly heat and has a slider that makes hitters look positively dumb. Your mileage may vary between him and Aroldis Chapman as the most dominant closers in the game, but it’s safe to say that what he has done to the opposition over the past couple of years seems pretty unfair sometimes.
Which makes this seem positively obscene:
Melvin Upton Jr. looked at almost every Kimbrel pitch without swinging, not an uncommon approach when facing Kimbrel on Day 1. Meanwhile, Braves newcomer Jonny Gomes swung at some Kimbrel offerings and missed a few, including one that appeared to be a … changeup? From Kimbrel? The guy with high-90s fastball and devastating slider?
Fredi Gonzalez speculates that Kimbrel is just messing with it and isn’t sure how often he’ll use the changeup in actual games. And Mark Bowman of MLB.com just tweeted that Kimbrel has experimented with changeups in spring training in the past (I don’t remember this, but I don’t really pay attention to spring training experiments either). But boy howdy, if Kimbrel does use a changeup and if it’s even halfway decent, he should be prosecuted for war crimes.
TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.
Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.
If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.
“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”
Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.
The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.
Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.