Craig Kimbrel notched his 50th save of the year Friday in the Braves’ 1-0 win over the Phillies, making him the 11th different reliever to reach the milestone.
In all, there have been 13 50-save seasons, with Mariano Rivera and Eric Gagne having gotten there twice. The Orioles’ Jim Johnson could also get there for a second time this year, but he’d need to pick up saves against the Red Sox in each of the Orioles’ two remaining games.
Kimbrel also fanned two batters tonight to up his season total to 98. As we blogged last night, the Royals’ Greg Holland just notched the 14th season ever of 40 saves and 100 strikeouts. Kimbrel owns two of them and could get there for a third straight year with two more strikeouts this weekend.
Kimbrel now has 139 career saves as he wraps up his age-25 season. Only Francisco Rodriguez, with 146, had more through 25. Rivera didn’t have a one, as he was a rookie starter for the Yankees in his age-25 campaign.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.