Hells Bells: Trevor Hoffman notches 600th career save

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Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Cardinals tonight to pick up his 600th career save in front of the home crowd in Milwaukee.
Hoffman lost the closer job after struggling mightily early this season and his ERA is still north of 6.00, but he’s quietly pitched well for the past few months while picking up the odd save here and there.
After the third out was recorded on a ground ball to 40-year-old shortstop Craig Counsell the Brewers reacted as if Hoffman had thrown a no-hitter, which says a lot about how well-liked he is in the clubhouse. In a postgame interview, he thanked the fans and his teammates for sticking with him.
He may get another save chance or two down the stretch, but it might be nice to end his career with an even number like 600. Mariano Rivera at 555 is the only other pitcher in baseball history with more than 480 saves and no other active pitcher is over 420.
Not bad for a former minor league shortstop who converted to pitching at age 23 because he couldn’t hit and hasn’t cracked 90 miles per hour with his fastball in at least a decade.

Royals sign Michael Saunders to a minor-league deal

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Free agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Royals, the team announced Friday. While the move comes just two days after Saunders agreed to terms with the Pirates, he allegedly asked for his release after the club acquired outfielder Corey Dickerson in a multi-player swap with the Rays on Thursday.

After earning his first spot on an All-Star team in 2016, Saunders followed up a solid campaign with a career-worst performance in 2017. The 31-year-old split the season between the Phillies and Blue Jays’ camps, batting a combined .202/.256/.344 with six home runs and -0.7 fWAR in 234 plate appearances. Although he remained healthy throughout the year, with no sign of the lingering hamstring strain that has plagued him on and off since 2013, he wasn’t productive enough to merit a full-time role on either roster.

With Dickerson slated for a starting role in Pittsburgh, it was unlikely that Saunders would have commanded anything other than a backup role in 2018. Now, however, he’ll compete for playing time amid a slew of outfield options, including Alex Gordon, Cody Asche, Jorge Bonifacio, Tyler Collins and Paulo Orlando.