Jonathan Papelbon’s 30-save streak stands alone

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Jonathan Papelbon protected a one-run lead Thursday against the Mets to earn his 30th save of the season. It’s the seventh year in a row he’s reached the milestone, a streak that is going to be by far the longest in baseball once the season ends.

Besides Papelbon, only Mariano Rivera had saved 30 games every season from 2006-11. In fact, he had done it a major league-record nine straight years. However, that streak is over now due to injury. The same goes for Brian Wilson’s streak of four straight seasons.

Incredibly, by the time 2012 ends, no major league pitcher besides Papelbon will be working on a streak of even three 30-save seasons. Along with Papelbon, Rivera and Wilson, only five pitchers had 30 saves in both 2010 and ’11:

Heath Bell – 19 saves in 2012
Carlos Marmol – 16 saves in 2012
Francisco Cordero – 2 saves in 2012
Neftali Feliz – 0 saves in 2012
Juan Carlos Oviedo – 0 saves in 2012

So, entering next year, the second longest streak of 30-save seasons will be shared by several guys with two: Craig Kimbrel, Joel Hanrahan, Jose Valverde, Chris Perez, J.J. Putz and maybe John Axford (he has 22 at the moment).

Orioles sign Alcides Escobar

Alcides Escobar
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The Orioles have inked shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Joe Trezza reported Saturday. The deal comes with an invitation to spring training and will allow Escobar to earn $700,000 in the majors if he breaks camp with the team (via Jon Heyman of MLB Network). The team has yet to formally announce the agreement.

Escobar, 32, completed an eight-year run with the Royals in 2018. No longer the .280-average, 3.0-fWAR player of seasons past, he hit several career lows after batting .231/.279/.313 with four home runs, eight stolen bases (in 10 chances), and a .593 OPS through 531 plate appearances last year. His defensive ratings also took a hit, and FanGraphs pegged him as the fourth-worst shortstop in the majors after he accumulated -12 DRS over the course of the season, only slightly higher than the Orioles/Dodgers’ Manny Machado, Mets’ Amed Rosario, and Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts.

Still, Heyman holds that Escobar is being considered for the starting gig this spring and could yet prove an upgrade over top prospects and infield candidates Richie Martin and Drew Jackson. At the very least, the veteran shortstop figures to stabilize the position given Martin and Jackson’s relative inexperience, as both infielders played to varying results in Double-A Tulsa last year and have yet to break into the majors. Should either player earn consideration for the position in camp, however, Escobar might still work his way onto the Opening Day roster in a utility role as he saw some time at third base, second base, and center field in 2018.