Craig Kimbrel shuts down former team, becomes eighth pitcher in history with 400 career saves
Craig Kimbrel is the newest member of the 400-save club. Friday night at Truist Park, the current Philadelphia Phillies closer and longtime Atlanta Braves closer tossed a scoreless ninth inning in Philadelphia’s win over the Braves (PHI 6, ATL 4) to become the eighth member of the 400-save club.
Here is the final out of Kimbrel’s 400th save:
Kenley Jansen recorded his 400th career save at Truist Park earlier this season. Like Kimbrel, he is a former Brave.
Kimbrel is in his first season with the Phillies. He was originally drafted by the Braves in 2008 and broke into the big leagues with Atlanta in 2010. In 2014, Kimbrel passed John Smoltz and became the Braves all-time saves leader with 155. He finished his Braves career with 186 saves, his most with any team.
The Braves traded Kimbrel away on Opening Day 2015. He spent 2010-14 with the Braves before moving on to the San Diego Padres (2015), Boston Red Sox (2016-18), Chicago Cubs (2019-21), Chicago White Sox (2021), Los Angeles Dodgers (2022), and now the Phillies. Kimbrel has recorded saves with seven different teams.
Here is the all-time saves leaderboard:
- Mariano Rivera: 652
- Trevor Hoffman: 601
- Lee Smith: 478
- Francisco Rodríguez: 437
- John Franco: 424
- Billy Wagner: 422
- Kenley Jansen: 401
- Craig Kimbrel: 400
The leaderboard skews recent given the changes in bullpen roles and bullpen usage over the years. Rivera, Hoffman and Smith are all in the Hall of Fame and Wagner may soon join them. His support climbed to 68.1% this year, his eighth year on the ballot. Wagner has two more years to get over the 75% threshold needed to get into the Hall of Fame.
Wagner making the Hall of Fame could help Kimbrel (and Jansen) one day find himself in Cooperstown. Hall of Fame voters have become increasingly supportive of modern one-inning closers in recent years and Kimbrel (and Jansen) is one of the best of this era. Kimbrel will have a viable Hall of Fame case when the time comes.
This season Kimbrel, 34, is a perfect 6 for 6 in saves chances after beginning the year in more of a setup role. He has seven postseason saves in addition to his 400 regular-season saves, and Kimbrel’s 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings is the highest strikeout rate in history among pitchers with 700 career innings. Jansen is second at 12.9.
Behind Jansen and Kimbrel, the active leader in saves is Aroldis Chapman at 317. These days the 35-year-old Chapman is mostly a setup man with the Kansas City Royals. Edwin Díaz (205 saves at age 29) and Josh Hader (145 saves at age 29) are candidates to be the next members of the 400-save club.