Orioles' closer Craig Kimbrel snubbed as MLB blows AL All Star roster decision

Orioles' closer Craig Kimbrel was denied a spot on the American League All Star roster thanks to the MLB league office's gaffe
Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics
Baltimore Orioles v Oakland Athletics / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

On Sunday evening, MLB announced the full list of starters, reserve hitters, and pitchers for next week's All Star Game in Arlington, Texas. Three Orioles made the cut, with Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, and Corbin Burnes all earning spots on the American League roster.

One glaring omission from that group is O's closer Craig Kimbrel. As fans are well aware, Kimbrel hasn't been perfect this season. But since the start of June, Kimbrel has turned a corner and has performed like one of the best relief pitchers in baseball.

After Sunday's victory against the Athletics, Kimbrel's ERA sits at a devilishly low 2.10 and he's converted 23 of 27 save opportunities, good for second best in the AL. Over the past six weeks, he looks a lot more like the peak version of himself than the one we all watched struggle the past two years.

Despite Kimbrel's recent run of success, the commissioner's office deemed that his efforts weren't worthy of an All Star appearance. Unlike each side's starting lineup, the pitchers for the All Star game are assigned by the league office.

Orioles' closer Craig Kimbrel was more deserving of this All Star roster spot than Clay Holmes

Rather than give the spot to Kimbrel, or even to Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen who owns a 2.08 ERA with 17 saves, the league office decided to gift the All Star spot to Yankees' closer Clay Holmes. Holmes is a solid pitcher having a nice season, but when you compare his stats to Kimbrel's, it's evident that MLB made the wrong choice here.

Holmes has an ERA of 3.00 on the year, almost a full run higher than Kimbrel's. He also has 4 fewer saves, along with 5 blown saves to Kimbrel's 4. You can look at it from just about any angle and make the determination that Kimbrel has had a better year than Holmes, and yet the league left the O's righty off the roster.

It's a questionable decision to begin with but it makes even less sense when you consider that there are multiple qualified relief pitchers who have had better years than Holmes. And it's not like the Yankees were long for good candidates since Aaron Judge and Juan Soto both earned spots in the AL's starting lineup.

Whatever the league's thinking here, it's unfortunate that they've skipped over Kimbrel in favor of a lesser closer pitching for a division rival. Orioles fans might be salty about this one for a little while, and the frustration is certainly deserved.