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The Three-Inning Save is an Endangered Species April 7, 2014

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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Yesterday, Manny Parra pitched two perfect innings to pick up the save against the Mets. It was a natural save situation – the Reds were leading 2-1 and used their best reliever to maintain that lead. Usually, saves are only one inning, but two-inning saves aren’t unusual.

The save rule (Rule 10.19) does, however, allow for a less-common type of save:

  1. He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;
  2. He is not the winning pitcher;
  3. He is credited with at least ⅓ of an inning pitched; and
  4. He satisfies one of the following conditions:
    1. He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning
    2. He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck
    3. He pitches for at least three innings.

Brad Hand of Miami picked up that sort of save on April 4th, saving starter Tom Koehler‘s win in a rout of the Padres. It was Hand’s first career save; he’s in his fourth season with the Marlins and has been excellent from the bullpen, but this was his first save opportunity. It was also the first three-inning save of 2014.

The king of the three-inning save last year was Brett Anderson, then of Oakland and currently of Colorado. Anderson recorded three of the long saves – coincidentally his only three career saves. He’s starting for Colorado this year, so his days as long man are probably over. These long saves were more common in the past, when starters finished games far more often and specialized relievers weren’t used; the all-time leader for this type of save is Hoyt Wilhelm, who notched 53 of them between 1952 and 1971, often pitching four full innings. Bob Stanley, Dan Quisenberry, and Bill Campbell share the single-season record with 11 three-inning saves in 1982, 1983, and 1977, respectively. Since 2005, only Anderson and John Wasdin of the 2005 Texas Rangers have had three of them in a season. Don’t expect many more this year.

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