MILWAUKEE — When right-hander Craig Kimbrel has been bad this season, he has been really bad. But Kimbrel has come on strong recently and has continued to get better as the season has progressed.
The Cubs’ “closer” has pitched a scoreless inning in nine of his last 10 appearances dating to Aug. 14. Kimbrel has 21 strikeouts in that span to go along with seven walks.
The veteran right-hander earned his second save of the season in the Cubs’ 4-2 comeback win over the Brewers on Saturday, throwing another scoreless inning with a strikeout.
The bullpen had to adjust while Kimbrel worked to find his form, and after a rocky start, it has turned into a more cohesive unit.
Kimbrel’s resurgence might provide the Cubs with a weapon they didn’t know they’d have as the regular season comes to a close.
‘‘It’s huge,” right-hander Jeremy Jeffress said. “Craig is somebody I’ve idolized from back in his days in Boston, San Diego and Atlanta. To see him get back to that is fun to watch. We’re throwing partners, so every day we’re critiquing each other. We’re making sure our mechanics are right to get back to where we need to be.”
Hoerner stays hot
Infielder Nico Hoerner is doing his best to stay in the lineup down the stretch, and the super-utility man, who started at third base Saturday, went 1-for-2 against the Brewers. He has a hit in seven of his last nine games and is hitting .333 in that span.
“I’ve got a lot of trust in Nico,’’ manager David Ross said before the game. ‘‘It really goes to him, the work he puts in in different positions. You talk to him about playing another spot, and when I put him in center field, I get a text back that says, ‘Sweet,’ with an exclamation point, or, you know, I’m moving him three hours before the game, moving him from second to third. He’s like, ‘Awesome.’
“There’s literally no pause in his excitement to play any position, and I swear if I told him to get the catcher’s gear on, he would be like, ‘Great, let me go block some balls.’ That’s the kind of player he is. [That’s] the kind of person he is, and talk about a refreshing attitude that he brings every day.”
Maybin out with stomach issues
Outfielder Cameron Maybin missed the game with gastrointestinal issues. Maybin was in the original lineup but was scratched two hours before first pitch and was replaced by Ildemaro Vargas.
“Seems to be a stomach bug,’’ Ross said. ‘‘It just kept him up last night. Came to my office, and he didn’t look like he had a lot to give. When you’re feeling bad all night and the stomach’s not good, I just don’t want to put him out there.”