Mariano Rivera moved past Trevor Hoffman on the all-time saves list this afternoon, throwing a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the Twins to close out a 6-4 victory and record his 602nd career save.
In general saves are an overrated and oftentimes silly stat and Rivera certainly didn’t need the record in order for people to realize what an amazing pitcher he’s been, but there’s definitely a nice symmetry to the best closer in baseball history being the all-time saves leader.
Here’s what the leaderboard now looks like:
Mariano Rivera 602
Trevor Hoffman 601
Lee Smith 478
John Franco 424
Billy Wagner 422
And no one else has 400.
Hoffman held the record for just one season, but Rivera will be atop the list for a long time. Francisco Cordero is second among all active pitchers with 323 saves and the highest total by someone under 30 years old is Francisco Rodriguez with 291.
Rivera will hold the record when he goes into Cooperstown and the way he’s pitching that might not be for a while. Today’s save was his 43rd of the season and Rivera has thrown 59 innings with a 1.98 ERA and 57/7 K/BB ratio. He’s as good as ever at age 41 and 700 saves seems possible, although 1,209 innings with a 2.21 ERA in the regular season and 140 innings with a 0.71 ERA in the postseason tells the story of his greatness even better than his save total.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.