A closer in baseball completes the win for their team at the end of the game. Generally speaking, teams have their best relief pitcher as the closer since that pitcher pitches the most stressful innings. However, sometimes a pitcher cannot get the job done via a win and receives a blown save. So what does a blown save mean, how can a pitcher get that unofficial stat, and who has some of the most blown saves in baseball? Find out more below.
What is a Save Opportunity Situation?
The save rule opportunity in baseball occurs when a new pitcher (not the starting pitcher) comes into a game with a three-run lead or less and completes the win for their team. The save opportunity could be as little as a third of an inning to pitching three innings in a row. As long as that pitcher comes secures the final out between 1/3 and 3 innings of pitching, they get the save.
If the pitcher came into the game with a three-run or less lead and then got additional runs, they will still earn the save record. For example, let’s say the closer came into the eighth inning with one out and bases loaded with a one-run lead. If the pitcher gets a double play to end the inning, and then his team scores seven runs in the next inning, they can still record a save if they pitch the ninth and secure the win.
What is a Blown Save in Baseball?
A blown save (BS) in baseball occurs when a relief pitcher cannot secure the save situation by allowing a tying run or winning run to score. An example of a blown save occurs if a reliever came in in the ninth with a two-run lead and gave up two runs or more. However, blowing save is similar to the HOLD stat where it is not an official MLB stat, but teams value it.
Can a Blown Save in Baseball Occur Before the Ninth Inning?
A blown save can occur before the ninth inning of a baseball game. For example, let’s pretend that the New York Yankees closer came in to pitch in the 8th inning with a two-run lead against the Houston Astros with one runner on. If the New York Yankees pitcher gave up a home run against the hitter of the Astros that ties the game, they (Yankees pitcher) would receive the blown save.
Can you Blow a Save and Record the Win?
A relief pitcher who blows the save can still record a win during the baseball game. For example, let’s pretend that the Los Angeles Dodgers closer came in at the top of the ninth with a one-run lead against the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox scored one run in the ninth via a wild pitch, which forces the Dodgers to bat in the bottom of the ninth. If the Dodgers can score one (or more) runs in the ninth inning to break the tie, and the previous Dodger pitcher finished the top of the ninth pitching, they become the winning pitcher even after blowing the save.
When Was the Blown Save Introduced in Baseball?
The blown save stat became part of the baseball discussion in 1988. The Rolaids Relief Man Award began using that to value a pitcher coming out of the bullpen during a regular season. However, a blown save was just one part of the analysis to measure a pitcher’s performance. For example, a relief pitcher who enters a game with a tying run on the bases and a batter at-bat and allows that runs to score will receive a blown save without giving up an earned run.
How is a Blown Save Different from a Blown Hold?
The primary difference between a blown save and a blown hold pertains to a save situation vs. not. For example, let’s pretend that the Texas Rangers starting pitcher only pitches five innings against the Baltimore Orioles and leaves with a one-run lead. If the next pitcher out of the bullpen gives up two runs, that pitcher receives the blown hold stat, but not a blown save. If, however, that starting pitcher went eight innings and then the relief pitcher blew the save in the ninth, they would get the blown save.
Who has the Most Blown Saves in Major League Baseball History?
While an official scorer might not recognize a blown save as an MLB stat, some famous pitchers own the most blow saves in baseball history. Below is a list of pitchers with the most blown saves as of July 2021. As you will see below, the top two pitchers are hall of fame pitchers, which shows how hard it is to save games at times. Finally, you can click on this link to see the entire list of pitchers with the most blown saves.
- Goose Gossage: (Hall of Fame) 112
- Rollie Fingers: (Hall of Fame) 109
- Jeff Reardon: 106
- Lee Smith: (Hall of Fame) 103
In summary, a blown save stat is valuable for teams to consider when trying to add a new pitcher during the season or offseason. For example, the Minnesota Twins might evaluate their closer during the offseason by how many blown saves they recorded. If the team feels that changing a closer can benefit the team, they can consider the blown stat to justify the change.