Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves has been selected as the winner of the Major League Baseball Delivery Man of the Month Award for September, it was announced today. This Major League Baseball award recognizes the most outstanding relief pitcher during each month of the regular season as voted on by a panel from Major League Baseball. It marks the second career award for Kimbrel, who also won for August 2011, and he remains the only Braves pitcher to win the award. In addition, he becomes the fifth pitcher to win a Delivery Man of the Month Award in consecutive seasons, joining Trevor Hoffman (May 2005, September 2006, May 2007); Joe Nathan (July 2008, June 2009); Mariano Rivera (April 2008, July 2009); and Joakim Soria (September 2008, September 2009).
Kimbrel went 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA over 13 scoreless appearances in September. The 24-year-old righthander converted each of 10 save opportunities and finished second in the Majors in saves for the month. In 12.2 innings pitched, he permitted just six hits and two walks with 25 strikeouts. The Huntsville, Alabama native opened the month with saves in three consecutive appearances on September 5th and 6th vs. Colorado and September 7th at New York. The two-time All-Star earned his first victory of the season after tossing a scoreless ninth inning in a 10-inning victory at Citi Field on September 9th. He picked up another win in his next outing on September 14th at home against the Washington Nationals, striking out the side on just 10 pitches in the ninth inning. The next day, Kimbrel again struck out the side as he preserved a 5-4 win over the Nationals at Turner Field.
Kimbrel is 3-1 on the season with a 1.02 ERA and an N.L.-best 42 saves over 62 appearances. In 61.2 innings pitched, he has surrendered just seven earned runs on 26 hits with 14 walks and 113 strikeouts. The Braves have compiled a record of 57-5 in games that Craig has pitched in, and they went 13-0 in such games during September as they clinched a berth in the Postseason. Kimbrel is just the second Braves hurler to post multiple 40-save seasons, joining John Smoltz, who did it in three straight seasons from 2002-04. Entering play today, Kimbrel is closing in on multiple pitching feats that have never been accomplished by a pitcher in modern history (minimum 60.0 innings pitched): Kimbrel’s average of 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings would mark the best in history; opponents are batting .123 against him, the lowest against any pitcher since 1900; his 4.3-to-1 strikeouts-to-hits ratio represents the best single-season ratio in Major League history; and he has retired 49.8 percent (113-of-227) of his hitters via strikeout, marking the best ratio in the live-ball era.
Other relievers receiving votes included Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson (1-0, 0.73 ERA, 9 SV, 12.1 IP, 7 SO) and Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 SV, 13.2 IP, 16 SO).