For Brewers fans in 2015, there wasn’t much to cheer about. Sure there were a few bright spots like Khris Davis leading the team with 27 home runs, solid bullpen work from Jeffress and Smith, and a few rookie starting pitchers that showed some promise.
But the absolute bright spot for the season was closer Francisco Rodriguez. “KRod” had 38 saves, a 2.21 ERA and had only two blown saves. On a team that finished under .500 (.420 winning percentage to be exact), KRod’s performance was noteworthy on several points.
First, KRod became one of 16 pitchers since 1973 to have 35 or more saves, a 90% save percentage and an ERA under 2.50 for a team that finished under .500 for the season. With his numbers in 2015, KRod became the first pitcher in MLB history to have 35-plus saves, a save percentage of 95% or higher and an ERA under 2.30 for a team that had a losing record.
These stats are impressive for a closer pitching for a losing team, but if we take the “pitching for a team that had a losing record” out of the equation KRod still had an impressive year for any pitcher. Consider this:
- KRod and Pirates closer Mark Melancon became the 27th and 28th pitchers since 1964 to have 20 or more saves in a season with a save percentage over 95 percent. Melancon had 51 saves and saved 96.2 percent of his games
- KRod was one of five pitchers this season to have 35-plus saves and two or fewer blown saves in a season. In addition to KRod and Melancon, Shawn Tolleson of Texas (35 saves, two blown saves), Andrew Miller of the New York Yankees (36 saves and two blown saves) and the Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen (36 saves and two blow saves) made the list. (Did you notice that four of the five pitchers to make this list in 2015 played for playoff teams?) Twenty-five different relievers have made this list since 1990. Melancon became only the third pitcher in history to have 50 or more saves and two or fewer blown saves in a season. The others: Eric Gagne in 2003 with the Dodgers (55 saves, zero blown saves) and Trevor Hoffman in 1999 with San Diego (53 saves and one blown save).
- KRod and Melancon became the 15th and 16th pitchers to have 35-plus saves, a 95% or higher save percentage and an ERA under 2.30 in a season. As mentioned above, KRod is the only pitcher in this group to have pitched for a team with a losing record.
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With a save on Wednesday against the New York Mets, Milwaukee’s Francisco Rodriguez picked up his 15th save this season in 15 opportunities. He is one of five relievers this season who have 10 or more saves and have not blown a save, a perfect 100% save percentage. The others: Glen Perkins (24 saves with Minnesota), Andrew Miller (17 saves with the Yankees), Jonathan Papelbon (13 saves with the Phillies) and Shawn Tolleson (10 saves with Texas).
In the Brewers history, only one relief pitcher has gone a whole season with 10 or more saves and not have a blown save… you guessed it, K-Rod did it for the Brewers in 2013 when he had 10 saves in 10 attempts.
Here’s a look at the Brewers relief pitchers who have saved 90% or more of their save attempts (minimum of 10 saves to qualify for the list) in a season:
Francisco Rodriguez, 2013, 100.0% (10 saves)
John Axford, 2011, 95.8% (46 saves)
Doug Jones, 1997, 94.7% (36 saves)
Doug Henry, 1991, 93.8% (15 saves)
Curtis Leskanic, 2000, 92.3% (12 saves)
Danny Kolb, 2003, 91.3% (21 saves)
Derrick Turnbow, 2005, 90.7 (39 saves)
Trevor Hoffman, 2009, 90.2 (37 saves)
Mike DeJean, 2002, 90.0 (27 saves)
There have been seven pitchers in MLB history who have a 100% save percentage (minimum of 20 saves in a season). The last relief pitcher to accomplish this feat was Jose Valverde of the Detroit Tigers in 2011. He had 49 saves that season and no blown saves. Eric Gagne holds the MLB mark with 55 saves and no blown saves in 2003 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The other pitcher with 40-plus saves and a 100% save percentage is Philadelphia’s Brad Lidge in 2008 when he was perfect in 41 save attempts.
Can K-Rod finish the season without a blown save and become the second relief pitcher in MLB history (with a minimum of 10 saves in the season) to have a 100% save percentage in two different seasons (Rod Beck is currently the only pitcher to achieve this; he had 28 saves in 28 save opportunities for the Giants in 1994 and 20 saves in 20 attempts for the Padres in 2003)?
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