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,
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.