Craig Kimbrel solidified himself as one of baseball’s greatest closers on Friday night with a historic achievement.
The Philadelphia Phillies reliever became just the eighth player in MLB history to record 400 saves.
Kimbrel joins Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Lee Smith, Francisco Rodriguez, John Franco, Billy Wagner, and Kenley Jansen. Jansen accomplished the feat earlier this season.
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Kimbrel notched his 400th save on Friday night against his former club, the Atlanta Braves (on their home turf) by getting NL MVP favorite Ronald Acuna Jr. to ground out as the tying run.
In his prime, Kimbrel was, without a doubt, the best closer in all of baseball.
In his first nine seasons with both Atlanta and the Boston Red Sox, he pitched to a 1.91 ERA, was named an All-Star seven times, and was on the Cy Young Award ballot five times, all as a top-nine finisher. In that span, he had a 0.92 WHIP, struck out 14.7 batters per nine innings, and racked up 333 saves. From 2011 to 2014, he led the National League in saves.
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In recent years, it’s been largely a different story, with a 3.94 ERA since 2019, which includes a 2.26 ERA in 2021.
Entering Friday night, his ERA was 6.00 in his first season with the Phillies. He spent time with the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers in the previous four seasons.
Rivera and Hoffman are the only pitchers in the 500-save club … and the 600-save club, so Kimbrel does have a long way to go, and he’s not the dominant reliever he once was.
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But at the very least, he will be remembered as having one of the best primes out of any closer in the history of the game.
And nobody will ever forget that stance.