LOS ANGELES — Craig Kimpel is the closer with the major league-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.
After months of defending him, manager Dave Roberts said Friday that forward Kimbrel will be used in different innings and in different situations during the final two weeks of the regular season. He said there was no replacement for Kimbrel in the ninth spot.
“It might not be traditional, but I don’t care too much about that,” Roberts said.
He was noncommittal about Kimbrel’s situation in the postseason. The Dodgers (104-46) have already clinched the NL West title. They are Oct. 11.
Kimbrel struggled in his first season in Los Angeles, where he was replaced by Kenley Johnson after he signed a veteran contract with Atlanta. The right-hander has a 6-6 record and a 4.14 ERA. Over 13 seasons with six teams, Kimbrel has a 2.33 career ERA.
“He’s very open to doing what’s best for the ballclub,” Roberts said. “He sees it as a challenge, and that’s the way we hope.”
Kimbrel was 22 for 27 in save chances, but the ninth turned into a roller coaster ride that had fans cheering at times.
Kimbrel hit the leadoff batter against Arizona on Thursday, giving up a home run and walking another batter. The Dodgers rallied in the bottom of the ninth to win 3-2.
His 394 career saves tied for seventh all-time among all active pitchers.
“I can’t predict the future,” Roberts said. “I know he’s willing to accept any role at this point.”