Billy Wagner dominating on verge of 400th save, but Braves are riding him awfully hard

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When the Braves signed Billy Wagner this offseason there was some thought that they’d have to be cautious with the 38-year-old’s workload in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery.
Instead he’s on pace for 70 appearances and 67 innings, which is pretty standard for a modern closer, and the Braves ramped up the workload last week by using Wagner for an inning Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Rarely do teams have a reliever work four straight days, let alone a 38-year-old reliever not that far removed from major surgery, but Wagner tossed a scoreless inning each time, allowing just two hits and a walk while striking out five.
He also notched a win and three saves in the four appearances, and as David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes Wagner is now one save away from joining Trevor Hoffman (596), Mariano Rivera (542), Lee Smith (478), and John Franco (424) in the 400-save club. I’d say that would increase his Hall of Fame case in the eyes of voters, but as the greatest left-handed reliever of all time his case should be obvious anyway.
Wagner has said that he plans to retire after the season, so there isn’t much long-term risk to running him out there on back-to-back-to-back-to-back days, but with the Braves sitting atop the NL East with the league’s best record there should be plenty of incentive to keep him healthy and sharp for the stretch run and playoffs.
So far so good, as Wagner is 5-0 with 14 saves and has been amazing with a 1.23 ERA, .168 opponents’ batting average, and 43/12 K/BB ratio in 29.1 innings, but it’ll be interesting to see if Bobby Cox loosens the reins a bit after leaning on him so heavily last week.

Report: Mike Clevinger agrees to 1-year deal with White Sox

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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CHICAGO — The Chicago White Sox bolstered their rotation, agreeing to a one-year contract with right-hander Mike Clevinger, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was subject to a successful physical.

The 31-year-old Clevinger went 7-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 23 games, including 22 starts, for San Diego this year. He missed the 2021 season after he had Tommy John surgery.

Chicago is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2022 season, when it went 81-81 and finished 11 games back of surprising AL Central champion Cleveland. Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa stepped down in October and Pedro Grifol was hired on Nov. 1.

The White Sox got a big lift from Johnny Cueto this year, but the 36-year-old right-hander is a free agent after going 8-10 with a 3.35 ERA in 25 appearances. Clevinger slots into a rotation that likely will include Dylan Cease, Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech.

The move puts the 6-foot-4 Clevinger back in the AL Central after he made his major league debut with Cleveland in 2016. He went 42-22 with a 3.20 ERA in four-plus seasons with Cleveland before he was traded to San Diego in a multiplayer deal in August 2020.

Clevinger was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 amateur draft. He was traded to Cleveland in 2014.

Clevinger is 51-30 with a 3.39 ERA in 128 career big league games. He also has 694 strikeouts in 656 2/3 innings.