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.

Diamondbacks sign Kris Medlen and Antonio Bastardo to minor-league deals

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed pitchers Kris Medlen and Antonio Bastardo to minor-league deals. Medlen will make $1.1 million if he breaks camp with the Snakes. Bastardo will earn at $1.5 million if he makes the team.

Medlen hasn’t pitched in the bigs since 2016 and hasn’t pitched effectively in the bigs since 2013 due to multiple Tommy John surgeries and, more recently, shoulder ailments. Last year he put up a 4.95 ERA in 20 games in the Braves’ minor league system. If he’s healthy he could be a depth guy for the Dbacks in the event one of their big league starters go down.

Bastardo pitched in nine games, ineffectively, for the Pirates before being released last season. He didn’t catch on anywhere else after that so, hey, I guess he’s fresh?