Red Sox manager Alex Cora will consider using Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning

Associated Press

New Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Tuesday that he will consider using closer Craig Kimbrel in the eighth inning if a high-leverage situation presents itself, ESPN’s Scott Lauber reports.

Kimbrel, 29, pitched before the ninth inning just six times in 67 appearances last season and five times in 57 appearances in 2016, so this would mark a significant shift in his usage. We’ve seen, particularly in the last two postseasons, an evolution in bullpen usage which has included using closers in high-leverage situations before the ninth inning.

This past season, Kimbrel saved 35 games with a 1.43 ERA and a 126/14 K/BB ratio in 69 innings. It seems pretty smart to utilize that skill set in more important situations than absent-mindedly always using him in the ninth inning.