Kimbrel sets rookie standard

Craig Kimbrel picked up his 27th save of the season Thursday against Colorado, a number that happens to be a very significant milestone; it broke a tie with Jonathan Papelbon for the most saves by a rookie prior to the All-Star Break since saves became an official stat in 1969. Kimbrel is part of the best relief corps in baseball, as the Braves bullpen owns a MLB-low 2.64 ERA this season.

Most Saves By Rookie
Before All-Star Break, All-Time

Kimbrel has converted his last nine save opportunities without allowing a run, and batters are hitting under .100 against both his fastball and slider in that span. Kimbrel also has not allowed a walk in those nine straight saves, and has reached a three-ball count just three times.

Something’s Brewing

Milwaukee Brewers closer John Axford continued his roll Thursday, notching his 20th straight save. It’s a particularly interesting streak, considering Axford blew two of his first five save chances of the year. He’s now closing in on the team’s single-season consecutive saves record of 25 set by Doug Jones in 1997.

During his current saves run, Axford has compiled a 1.91 ERA while allowing only one home run in 33 innings. He has recorded 45 strikeouts and just 11 walks in that span.

Axford has shown significant improvement with inside pitches this season. On at-bats ending with pitches inside this season, foes are hitting .194 with a .585 OPS. Compare that to 2010, when those numbers were .270 and .737.

Royal Numbers

Middle relievers don’t often receive much credit for their work, but Kansas City Royals reliever Louis Coleman certainly deserves praise for his most recent week. In three July outings this year, Coleman has gone two innings in each and has yet to allow a run. During this month, he’s faced 24 batters and gotten them to swing and miss at a rate of 35 percent (league average: 20 percent).