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Craig Kimbrel passes John Smoltz for save record with Braves

Jun 7, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

Craig Kimbrel Getty Getty Images

Craig Kimbrel recorded four outs against the Diamondbacks last night at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona to finish off a 5-2 victory for the Braves. This particular save had a little more meaning than usual, as it was the 155th of his career, surpassing John Smoltz for the franchise record.

You can watch Kimbrel’s appearance below:

Smoltz established the previous record during his stint in the bullpen from 2001-2004. Kimbrel has only been in the majors since 2010, so it didn’t take him long to vault to the top of the list. He saved one game during his rookie season, 46 in 2011, 42 in 2012, 50 last season, and 16 so far this year. Still just 26 years old, he figures to take aim at the likes of Trevor Hoffman and Mariano Rivera on MLB’s all-time saves list if he can remain healthy.

Kimbrel has compiled a 1.41 ERA and 419 strikeouts over his first 254 appearances in the majors. He owns the lowest ERA and strikeout rate (15.14 K/9) in MLB history among pitchers with at least 240 innings pitched. Saves are often a function of good teams, so Kimbrel has been fortunate on that end, but he has had a historic start to his career.

  1. proudofuga - Jun 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    congratulations to CK. awesome pitcher and someone who I have watched slowly mature to a more and more savvy closer. Not perfect….but pretty damn close. one of the few truly shining stars for the bravos right now.

  2. mmeyer3387 - Jun 7, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    You may be right. Nothing against Kimbrel, who is clearly one of the top closer in the game right now. But it isn’t fair to compare him to Smoltz. Right now, no one playing comes close to Smoltz. That being said, he is nothing like Smoltz, who was a one of the great pitchers of his era. What’s more, is that he was also very deverise, a great starter and closer. Off of the top of my head, I can’t think of anyone else that was great at both over the last three decades. Eckersley’s is the only one that comes to mind. But he was a better closer than starter and he was from a earlier decade.

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:25 PM

      I’m a big Braves fan and a huge Greg Maddux fan…

      I really like Smoltz but to say no one pitching now comes close to him is a bit much…

      Smoltz only had a career 125 ERA+

      He is a Hall of Famer, no doubt but he is not a top tier pitcher like Maddux, Pedro, the Big Unit etc…

      He’s in that 2nd tier below them.

      And to respond to who in the game today is like Smoltz, I offer Felix Hernandez.

      Ten years in the league, so not a kid anymore. But still has to pitch for years yet.

      Hernandez ERA+ 128
      Smoltz ERA+ 125

      Hernandez ERA 3.17
      Smoltz ERA 3.33

      Hernandez winning % .576% on TERRIBLE Mariner’s teams
      Smoltz winning % .579% on GREAT Braves teams

      K’s per 9 innings
      Hernandez 8.4
      Smoltz 8.0 relieving helps increase this as a reliever can go all out for an inning or two and not worry about pacing himself so Smoltz got MORE K’s as a reliever and still isn’t to Hernandez’s mark. Looking at Smoltz’s stats, you’ll see he had a great K per 9 innings in his years relieving…

      Now, Hernandez has to pitch well for many more years, but so far, he’s like Smoltz… very similar.

      Both big guys, strikeout pitchers…

  3. sportsfan18 - Jun 7, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Congrats…

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