Braves flamethrower Craig Kimbrel sets rookie saves record

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By picking up No. 27 Thursday against the Rockies, Craig Kimbrel set a rookie record for the most saves prior to the All-Star break.

The old record was 26, set by Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon in 2006.

Kimbrel, who wasn’t picked for next week’s All-Star Game, has received a whopping 32 save chances in the Braves’ 89 games this season.  The next most in either league is 28 for Brian Wilson.

While Kimbrel was quite shaky early, blowing four of his first 15 opportunities, he’s currently converted nine in a row and 16 of his last 17.  He hasn’t even allowed a run since June 11, and his ERA is down to 2.40.

As long as he stays healthy, Kimbrel looks like a shoo-in to claim the NL saves record for a rookie, which has survived for 25 years since Todd Worrell saved 36 games for the Cardinals in 1986.  The major league record is 40, established by Neftali Feliz last season.

Mets to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen

Matt Harvey
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Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.

It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.

At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”

Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.