New Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel could make debut Monday

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

We didn’t really expect the Chicago Cubs to rush newly-signed closer Craig Kimbrel to the majors. Just two weeks after signing Kimbrel and with him having missed all of spring training, that might not be the case.

According to Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic, it’s possible that Kimbrel could join the big league club in time for Monday’s series against the Atlanta Braves. Kimbrel himself didn’t throw any cold water on that speculation.

“We’re just going one appearance at a time, one step at a time,” Kimbrel said. “I’ll throw Friday, see how I feel and go from there.”

The 31-year-old reliever has only pitched one game down at Triple-A Iowa. Though, he was darn impressive in that outing.

There shouldn’t really be a sense of urgency for the Cubs or their new closer. Unlike the Braves’ equally important in-season signing of Dallas Keuchel, Chicago’s deal with Kimbrel was of the multi-year variety.

The Cubs head into this weekend’s action with a 41-33 record and in first place in the NL Central. They have struggled in the back end of the bullpen with the tandem of Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop failing to get the job done.

With that said, Kimbrel is also looking at the long-term picture. For him, that’s more about the playoffs and chasing a ring than it is about pitching in June.

“I’m ready to do it,” Kimbrel said of his Wrigley debut. “But I also have to listen to myself, listen to my body. This isn’t about next couple games before the (All-Star) break. It’s about after the break and the postseason. I’m making sure I feel the way I should.”

Kimbrel will go Friday for Iowa and might try a back-to-back stint on the bump. If all goes well, he could be joining the Cubs on Monday.