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.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.