Craig Kimbrel Could Be Top-5 Fantasy Baseball Relief Pitcher Once Closer Joins Cubs

Chicago Cubs Introduce Craig Kimbrel
Chicago Cubs Introduce Craig Kimbrel / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages

Cover Photo: Getty Images

After a long and frustrating wait for Craig Kimbrel's fantasy baseball owners, the closer is expected to finally make his Chicago Cubs debut later this week.

Outside of a slight dip in fastball velocity, Kimbrel hasn't shown much rust during his tune-up stint with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, allowing one earned run on two hits while striking out two in the three appearances he's made so far.

There may be a little more work to be done, which will likely come in the seven-time All-Star's last appearance in the Minors on Tuesday. The 31-year-old closer is expected to be added to the Cubs' roster as soon as Thursday of this week, and the same should be done when it comes to Kimbrel in fantasy. The reliever truly has some season-changing fantasy potential as he should be inserted directly into the club's closer role once he gets back to the Majors.

With a little more than half a season left to play, it's likely that Kimbrel will see plenty of save opportunities, based on the fact that the Cubs win lots of games. That being said, a 20-save second half is well within reach for the closer as long as Chicago keeps rolling.

His strikeout potential – he struck out 96 batters in 62 1/3 innings with the Boston Red Sox last season – is what truly makes him special and is what can make Kimbrel a top-5 relief pitcher for the remainder of the 2019 fantasy baseball season.

If you haven't added Kimbrel to your roster yet (he's still available in 12 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues), it's time to do so now as he'll likely be back up and running before the end of the week.

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Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.