As the role of relievers continues to grow and gain prominence in team building, it’s only natural that MLB is taking a closer look at the sabermetrics of relief pitching. Presently, relievers can be credited with a save or charged with a blown save depending on what happens when they enter a game. Recently, we’ve also become familiar with the “hold” that is credited to a reliever who pitches effectively in the middle innings and holds the opposition at bay giving his team a opportunity to win the game. However, the hold is NOT a official statistic. Blown saves as the words suggest are missed opportunities to protect a lead. However, the “save ” is a bit more complicated as seen here ………..
Rule 10.20 in the Official Rule Book states:
Credit a pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions:
(1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and
(2) He is not the winning pitcher; and
(3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions:
– (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or
– (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces; or
– (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings. No more than one save may be credited in each game.
A closer’s value (i.e. Salary) is currently determined by the number of saves he records weighed against his blown save count. ( Last years saves leaderboard looks like this while the blown save leaders can be viewed here). But it’s the fact that we’re talking about $$$$ that is causing the problem with regards to revamping stats as they relate to relief pitchers……….
To illustrate the need for change, consider this very plausible scenario for a game in 2016. The Yankees Ivan Nova starts the game and goes his usual fiour innings and leaves with the Yankees trailing 3-2. Dellin Betances comes on and tosses three perfect innings striking out five and walking none. He leaves the game with the Yankees having tied the score. Andrew Miller enters the game, strikes out three but gives a go-ahead home run. In the bottom of the eighth, the Yankees come back to take the lead by one. Ardolis Chapman enters game in the ninth for the “save”. He walks two and then a sacrifice puts the winning run on second. He then strikes out the next two batters and (by the rules) earns himself a save. Question: Who was the most effective pitcher in that game for the Yankees?
perfect innings kept his team in the game at a time when things could easily have gotten worse or totally out of hand. $aves mean dollars while holds are not even counted by MLB. This needs to change – whether by means of a rule change or by perception- it doesn’t matter. A rule change would be best. Giving the official scorer the leeway to grant a save based on a pitcher’s overall effectiveness on a given day would seem to make the most sense. Worried about putting this much power in the hands of one individual?……..no problem……….have three scorers (there’s plenty of writers covering each game who could qualify).
Next arguement: Can a pitcher be credited be credited with both a win and a save as would be the case in the illustration above with Dellin Betances earning both…….Why not……..a batter can get credited with a single,double, and a home run in the same game………..
With money on the line, MLB has to do something. Especially, as the role of the relief pitcher continues to expand and teams build a staff around their bullpen……..