NL Notes: Kimbrel, Fedde, Cavalli, Nationals, Junis

The Dodgers used Craig Kimbrel for the last inning of today’s 10-3 win over the Marlins, and the reliever delivered a perfect frame to mop things up.  While not a save situation for Kimbrel, manager Dave Roberts told J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (Twitter links) and other reporters that Kimbrel and the team have agreed to base the right-hander’s workload going forward not on save chances, but rather on just getting regular outings.  This wouldn’t preclude Kimbrel being used in save opportunities, of course, and Roberts said he could still choose to use Kimbrel in consecutive games.

It has been a shaky year for the veteran reliever, as between a subpar walk rate and a lot of hard contact allowed, Kimbrel has only a 4.46 ERA over 42 1/3 innings.  A big .388 BABIP is responsible for some of these struggles, but consistency has been hard to come by in Kimbrel’s first season in Los Angeles.  It has turned the ninth inning into a question mark for the Dodgers heading into the postseason, and it could be that Kimbrel’s adjusted role could be the team’s way of auditioning some other relievers for the closer’s job as October looms.  It is also possible the Dodgers will rotate Kimbrel and many other pitchers into save situations as circumstances dictate, which may concern L.A. fans who have seen late-game breakdowns doom the Dodgers in past postseason trips.

More from around the National League…

  • The Nationals rotation will get a jolt this week, as both Erick Fedde and top prospect Cade Cavalli might be in the mix.  Fedde is the surer thing, as manager Davey Martinez told reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of that Fedde will be activated from the 15-day injured list and start Tuesday’s game with the Mariners.  Right shoulder inflammation put Fedde out of action back on July 27, and the right-hander had a 4.95 ERA over 92 2/3 innings and 19 starts for Washington before going on the IL.  Fedde is a potential non-tender candidate as he enters his second year of arbitration eligibility, though he’ll have a few more starts to make his case for another contract, plus the Nationals might be open to giving a former first-rounder another chance anyway as the team looks to rebuild.  Cory Abbott will be moved to the bullpen to fit Fedde into the rotation.
  • Cavalli was the 22nd overall pick of the 2020 draft, and is ranked within the top 60 on updated prospect lists from Baseball America (52nd) and MLB Pipeline (58th).  It has been just a few days since Cavalli’s 24th birthday, and the right-hander has a 3.71 ERA, 25.9% strikeout rate, and 9.7% walk rate over 97 Triple-A innings this season.  Control is the biggest question facing Cavalli, who otherwise has four plus pitches, highlighted by a 97mph fastball that earned a 70 grade from both BA and Pipeline.  The Nationals’ rotation plans are somewhat unknown due to three off-days in the next eight-day span, but Zuckerman thinks Cavalli might be promoted during the team’s August 26-September 1 homestand.
  • X-rays were negative on Jakob Junis’ left hand after the Giants starter was hit by a line drive in today’s game.  Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters (including’s Maria I. Guardado) that Junis will also get a CT scan tomorrow to further check for any damage.  The discomfort was severe enough for Junis to be forced out of the game in the sixth inning.  Since Junis is a right-handed pitcher and because San Francisco doesn’t play on either Monday or Thursday this week, it seems possible Junis might not need an IL trip or even technically any missed starts, if the off-days just push the rest of the rotation back.  Junis has had a solid first year with the Giants, posting a 3.58 ERA over 78 innings despite a hamstring string that cost him over a month of action.

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