Kimbrel proving tough on hitters
Last year, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg arrived with great fanfare before proving the hype justified with dominating performances as a rookie.
But in Atlanta, there was a less-heralded rookie pitcher who was showing himself to be even tougher for opposing batters to hit.
Craig Kimbrel, a reliever whom the Braves selected in the third round of the 2008 draft, struck out 40 of the 88 batters he faced last year and added six more K's in his first 12 batters of 2011.
That's more strikeouts in his first 100 career batters faced than any other pitcher since 1974, which is how far the numbers go back. Strasburg comes in second with 41 strikeouts in the first 100 batters faced.
The diminutive Kimbrel, who is officially listed at 5 feet 11 inches tall, doesn't look as intimidating as the 6-foot-4 Strasburg, but he still manages a 95-mile-an-hour fastball. Still, Kimbrel's size does bring up durability questions, and other pitchers on the list of early dominators have had their share of health issues.
Strasburg, Pat Neshek and Kerry Wood ended up having major arm surgery. Hideo Nomo and Joba Chamberlain, other pitchers on the list, took big steps back after crackerjack debut seasons.