On Thursday, the Chicago Cubs announced that they are recalling right-handed relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel from Triple-A Iowa. The team noted that Kimbrel will be available for the Cubs in Thursday’s game when they conclude their four-game series against the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field.

After months in free agency, Kimbrel joined the Cubs on June 7 when he signed a three-year, $43 million dollar contract with a vesting/club option for the 2022 season. 

Chicago initially gave Kimbrel a few weeks to get his arm ready for MLB action at the spring training facility and with the Triple-A team. He has made four appearances for the Iowa Cubs, posting a 2.45 ERA (1 ER/3.2 IP) with a 0.82 WHIP. His most recent outing came on Tuesday when he retired the side in order on 16 pitches with a pair of strikeouts.

Kimbrel, 31, joined the Red Sox in 2016 after five seasons with the Braves as well as one year with the Padres. He was part of a Boston team that made three consecutive trips to the postseason, averaging 36 saves a year over that span. During last year’s World Series champion run, Kimbrel notched 42 saves and a 2.74 ERA in 63 relief outings, striking out 96 batters in 62 1/3 innings pitched. 

Kimbrel leads all active pitchers with 333 saves, it’s the 14th most in MLB history. He needs eight saves to match Rollie Fingers for 13th place and 14 saves to pull even with Randy Myers for 12th.

Kimbrel should provide an upgrade to Chicago’s inconsistent bullpen, but whether or not he gets his first save opportunity of the 2019 season will rely on the Cubs taking a lead into the late innings. The first-place Cubs have dropped 10 of their last 16 games, and they’ll try to notch a series spilt between the first-place Braves in Thursday’s finale — fans can stream the game regionally via fuboTV (Try for free).

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