Kimbrel looks to duplicate dominating 2012 season



KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Craig Kimbrel has a tough encore in 2013.

After all, he’s coming off one of the most dominant seasons for a closer in baseball history.

Kimbrel had 42 saves for the Atlanta Braves, but that only tells part of the story. His ERA was a microscopic 1.01. He allowed just 27 hits in 62 2-3 innings. Most astonishing, he had 116 strikeouts — fanning more than half of the 231 batters he faced.

The right-hander can blow batters away with a 100 mph fastball. When Kimbrel mixes in a knee-bending slider — which is harder than most pitchers’ fastballs — well, it just doesn’t seem fair. He’s also improved his control, issuing only 14 walks last season.

Kimbrel leaves Sunday to close for the United States in the World Baseball Classic.