It just got a little more difficult to manufacture a save record not held by Mariano Rivera.
The 43-year-old picked up his 40th save Tuesday against the White Sox, reaching that plateau for the ninth time in his illustrious career. That ties Trevor Hoffman for the most of all-time. No one else has more than four:
9 – Hoffman, Rivera
4 – Dennis Eckersley, Jose Mesa, Robb Nen, Francisco Rodriguez, John Wetteland
3 – Heath Bell, Armando Benitez, Francisco Cordero, Eric Gagne, Craig Kimbrel, Joe Nathan, Jeff Reardon, Jeff Shaw, Lee Smith, John Smoltz, Jose Valverde
Earlier this year, Rivera passed Hoffman for the lead in 30-save seasons, 15-14. Next on that list is Lee Smith with 10 and Billy Wagner with nine. Among active pitchers, Joe Nathan has eight (including this year) and Jonathan Papelbon seven (not yet including this year).
Rivera and Gagne are also the only relievers with a pair of 50-save seasons.
It’s old hat now, but Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is once again threatening to post a sub-1.00 ERA. He’s at 0.94 after pitching a scoreless inning for his 44th save Tuesday against the Mets.
Kimbrel finished last year at 1.01.
There was actually some concern about Kimbrel after he got off to a rough start this spring and took a loss to the Dominican Republic while pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Struggling to find his breaking ball, he wasn’t quite his usual self at the beginning of the regular season, either; he blew three saves in the first five weeks, with his ERA peaking at 3.38 on May 7.
Of course, Kimbrel has allowed all of one run in the nearly four months since. He’s also converted 34 straight save chances.
Kimbrel’s 1.01 ERA last year was the 13th lowest all-time among pitchers to throw at least 50 innings. Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney actually set the record last season, coming in at 0.60 to beat out Dennis Eckersley’s 0.61 mark from 1990.
There’s no way Kimbrel is going to top that, but if he keeps putting up zeroes, he’ll likely end up in the 0.80-0.85 range.
That might not be the low mark of 2013, though. Pirates reliever Mark Melancon is at 0.88 at the moment. Both he and Kimbrel have allowed six earned runs, but Melancon tops him in innings 61 1/3 to 57 2/3.
Red Sox color commentator Jerry Remy, who has been out of the booth since his son, Jared, was accused of the murder of his girlfriend, won’t return this season, it was announced after Thursday’s game.
Jared Remy pleaded not guilty Aug. 16 to the murder of girlfriend Jennifer Martel.
“I am full of grief for the Martel family,” Jerry Remy said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers continue to go out to them. My wife and I are sick about this senseless tragedy. It’s clear this isn’t the time for me to return to broadcasting Red Sox games. It’s my hope that I can do so in the spring. I thank NESN and the Red Sox for their support through this nightmare.”
One imagines Remy will have a place in the Red Sox booth for as long as he wants it, and at 60, he’s far from too old to do the job. However, he’s put in full seasons in just two of the last five years. He sat out most of 2009 after complications arising from cancer surgery, and in 2012, he dealt with depression and took a leave of absence. It’s possible he could call it a career this winter or at least scale back his workload significantly.
With Remy out in recent weeks, NESN and the Red Sox been using Dennis Eckersley for color commentary, though that’s been getting them a whole lot more color than commentary. They’ll surely need to do better if Remy steps away, and it wouldn’t hurt to audition a few candidates now. Gabe Kapler maybe?