Royals closer Greg Holland pitched a scoreless ninth in a 3-2 game against the White Sox on Thursday, giving him his team-record 46th save in 49 chances this season.
Holland overtook Dan Quisenberry (1983) and Jeff Montgomery (1993) for the Royals record. He also fanned two batters to top 100 strikeouts for the season; he’s at 101 in 66 innings.
That makes Holland the 14th pitcher (11th different) to record 40 saves and 100 strikeouts in a season. Eric Gagne did it three times. The Braves’ Craig Kimbrel has a chance to do it for the third time this year, but he’s still four strikeouts short (he has 49 saves) with probably one or two appearances remaining. Also having pulled it off are Armando Benitez, Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Bryan Harvey, John Wetteland, Robb Nen, Trevor Hoffman and Ugueth Urbina.
Holland has accomplished all this after nearly losing the closer’s gig a week into the season. He gave up three earned runs in a loss and blown save on April 6 and then was pulled out of a save chance the next night, leading to speculation that Kelvin Herrera might replace him in the ninth. However, he quickly turned it around from there and never looked back,
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.