A relief pitcher who comes in to a game with a lead and protects it until the end of the game, can be credited with a save under the particular situations described in scoring rule 10.19.

Below are the specific circumstances that must be met:

  1. last pitcher in the game (*)
  2. his team wins the game
  3. does not qualify to be the winner
  4. AND one of the following:

a) pitches 1 or more innings with a lead of 3 or less runs

b) pitches 3 innings

c)  comes into game with tying run on deck

The first 3 points are obvious.  It’s rule 4 that can cause confusion.

Point (a) is the “standard” save – closer comes in to pitch the 9th inning to protect a small lead.

Point (b) is somewhat controversial. If a pitcher, often a mop up man, comes into the game in the 7th inning with say a 12 run lead, he can give up 11 runs and if he finishes the game, will be credited with a save.

Point (c) is used when a pitcher pitches less than an inning, but it’s a potentially tight situation.  For example, coming in with 1 out in the 9th, bases loaded, and just a 1 run lead.  If he protects the lead, he gets the save, even though he pitched less than the 1 inning required by point (a).  Sometimes, these saves are a lot less well deserved than this.  Coming in with 2 outs and a 5 run lead would also be a save situation, if the bases were loaded.  Or 2 outs, a 3 run lead and just a runner on first base.

(*) there’s also a clause that the pitcher must record at least 1 out.  I can’t think of a situation where the finishing pitcher does not get an out, unless right after he comes into the game, it is called on account of rain.

  1. Constantine Kostarakis

    I think the save statistic has been a detriment to the game of baseball. Many relief pitchers do not deserve a save as they may have come in with a huge lead but give up so many runs they barely survive, yet get a save. Also, the middle reliever many times gets no respect even though they pitched in a high leverage situation. Finally, managers are being influenced by the save statistic by being “forced” to use the closer in the 9th inning with a lead, instead of in a high leverage situation when they are needed most.
    In any case, it is a statistic that does not reflect the true talent of a relief pitcher. It is flawed and should be changed but unfortunately will remain as it is a source of huge contracts.

    • Totally agree. So many high leverage situations in the 6th or 7th inning are handled by the worst pitcher on the staff, becuause managers are saving their closers for the 9th.

  2. pitcher comes in and appeals a missed base and the 3rd out is recorded would be credited to previous pitchers line

    • No. Out occurred while new pitcher is in, so he gets credit for the out, even if he didn’t throw a pitch. This is right in a comment in the scoring rules under 9.02(c)(1) (old rule 10.02) : “If a relief pitcher enters a game and his team initiates a successful appeal play that results in one out, the officer scorer shall credit such relief pitcher with 1/3 of an inning pitched.”

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