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Cora: Kimbrel might be tipping his slider, which is contributing to his troubles

John Tomase
October 18, 2018 - 7:38 pm

Alex Cora has one possible explanation for Craig Kimbrel's mystifying struggles this postseason – he's tipping his slider.

Kimbrel allowed a run for a fourth straight postseason outing on Wednesday, and it took a diving catch from Andrew Benintendi to keep him from allowing three more in what would've been a devastating walk-off loss to the Astros.

Kimbrel earned the save with two innings of relief, but they were once again shaky. He allowed a run in the eighth and loaded the bases in the ninth before escaping with an 8-6 victory.

“There’s something with his slider I think,” Cora told reporters on Thursday before the Red Sox played the Astros in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. “There has to be something going on because there’s a lot of takes. Quality ones, too. They keep taking it, and that started in New York. Hopefully our video system is good and we can find what’s going on and we can fix it.”

The takes on his slider don't account for his horrible fastball command, which Cora acknowledged. On the last out of Wednesday's game, for instance, Kimbrel's 97 mph fastball to Alex Bregman was supposed to be away, but came up and in and Bregman lined it to left.

“Although there’s no fastball command, the quality of the sliders are good and they’re not offering,” Cora said. “Either they have a good game plan or it’s paranoia from my end.”

Cora still believes in Kimbrel.

“They’re working on it. He was very honest with you guys,” Cora said. “What are you missing? The plate. We talked about it last night. And this is not about pleasing him, or just, I’m throwing him out there because I believe in him. We’ve got to believe in the 25 guys, the whole organization here. I’m not going to put one individual in front of the goal that we have in mind.”