Saves are an important category in most fantasy baseball leagues, but they can often be a pretty misleading way to evaluate a pitcher. Thankfully that's never been the case with Mariano Rivera.
After tying Trevor Hoffman on Saturday, Rivera made history Monday afternoon by recording his 602nd career save to become the all-time saves leader. He got there with a perfect ninth inning against the Twins, breaking a bat in the process. We may have seen that a few hundred times over the years.
Showing no signs of slowing down, the 41-year-old right-hander has 1.93 ERA, 43 saves and a 57/7 K/BB ratio over 59 innings this season. In truth, Rivera didn't need the all-time saves record to be recognized as the greatest relief pitcher ever, since it's already been abundantly clear for quite some time, but it's rather appropriate that he now sits atop the leaderboard.
While one wonders if Rivera can make it to 700 before calling it a career, here are some more news and notes from around an action-packed Monday in the baseball world.
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* On the subject of closers, is it time to worry about Craig Kimbrel? As part of a stunning loss to the Marlins on Monday night, the young fireballer served up a walkoff two-run blast to Omar Infante. The loss cut the Braves lead to 2 1/2 games over the Cardinals and 3 1/2 over the Giants in the National League Wild Card race.
Kimbrel has allowed home runs in consecutive games after giving up just one over his first 75 appearances this season. The 23-year-old right-hander has been simply fantastic during his rookie campaign, posting a 2.03 ERA, 45 saves and a 124/29 K/BB ratio over 75 1/3 innings, but there's a chance he could be hitting the wall at the worst possible time for the Braves.
* Monday's doubleheader between the Orioles and Red Sox was filled with storylines and postseason implications, but for the purposes of this column, I'm focusing on Brian Matusz.
Making his first appearance since September 5, Matusz was smacked around for six runs over 1 2/3 innings in Monday's nightcap to fall to 1-8 on the season. His ERA jumped to 10.68 in the lopsided loss, giving him the worst ERA ever for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 starts in a season. The record was previously held by Roy Halladay, who posted a 10.64 ERA over 67 2/3 innings as a 23-year-old with the Blue Jays in 2000.
We have seen our fair share of high-profile disappointments this season, but Matusz ranks pretty high on the list. The 24-year-old southpaw entered spring training with plenty of momentum after posting a 2.11 ERA over his final 11 starts in 2010, but he has looked like a completely different pitcher since making his season debut in June after returning from a strained intercostal muscle. The good news is that youth is on his side, but he will enter spring training as a major question mark for 2012.
* The Cardinals beat the Phillies 4-3 on Monday night and continue to put the pressure on the Braves in the National League Wild Card hunt, but they may have to play the rest of the season without Matt Holliday.
A team source tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Holliday's availability for the rest of the season is "doubtful." Holliday hasn't played since leaving last Tuesday's game with inflammation in his right middle finger. He has yet to swing a bat since returning to St. Louis, which indicates that the pain in his finger hasn't subsided. Allen Craig, who homered twice and doubled in Sunday's victory over the Phillies, makes for a worthy pickup in NL-only and deeper mixed formats in the short term.
NL Quick Hits: Ian Kennedy earned his 20th victory of the season Monday by striking out 12 and limiting the Pirates to one hit and one walk over eight innings of shutout ball … Mike Stanton went deep twice in Monday's win over the Braves, giving the 21-year-old slugger 34 homers for the season … Josh Johnson (shoulder) will throw to live hitters Thursday in an instructional league appearance … Troy Tulowitzki (hip) and Todd Helton (back) both took batting practice and participated in baseball activities Monday … Justin Upton slugged a broken bat home run in Monday's win over the Pirates ... Ryan Howard received a cortisone shot in his left ankle on Monday and hopes to return to the lineup as soon as Thursday … The Braves are hopeful that Tommy Hanson (shoulder) will be able to start the final game of the regular season on September 28 … Kyle Lohse allowed an unearned run over 7 1/3 innings in Monday's win over the Phillies … Geovany Soto homered twice and drove in five runs in Monday's win over the Brewers … Cory Luebke allowed two runs over seven innings in Monday's win over the Rockies … The Padres activated third baseman Chase Headley (finger) from the 15-day disabled list Monday, but he isn't ready to return to the starting lineup … Impending free agent Jonathan Broxton underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow Monday … Jeff Karstens allowed one run over six innings against the Diamondbacks on Monday in his final start of the season … Jair Jurrjens (knee) threw a light bullpen session Monday ... Kerry Wood will miss the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee, which will require surgery … Yonder Alonso will be limited to pinch-hitting for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury … The Phillies plan to send Domonic Brown to the instructional league following the regular season … The Diamondbacks called up prospect right-hander Jarrod Parker on Monday, but will not promote 2011 first-round pick Trevor Bauer this season …
AL Quick Hits: Curtis Granderson connected for home run No. 41 in Monday's win over the Twins … Carl Crawford didn't play during Monday's doubleheader against the Orioles due to neck stiffness … Carlos Santana has five homers in his last seven games … Ricky Romero allowed two runs over nine innings Monday, but was handed a no-decision as part of an extra-inning win over the Angels … Mark Reynolds sat out Monday's doubleheader against the Red Sox after being hit in the helmet by Ervin Santana on Saturday … Eric Thames (eye) went 3-for-4 with a walk in his return to the lineup Monday night … Dustin Pedroia, Jed Lowrie and Conor Jackson all drove in four runs in the second game of Monday's doubleheader against the Orioles … J.P. Arencibia went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI in Monday's extra-inning win over the Angels … Marco Scutaro had six hits in Monday's doubleheader against the Orioles and is now batting .298 on the season … Torii Hunter and Mark Trumbo homered in Monday's extra-inning loss to the Blue Jays … Mike Carp had a grand slam and drove in five runs in Monday's rain-shortened win over the Indians … Mike Trout didn't play Monday after fouling a ball off his left leg during Saturday's game … John Lackey was hammered for eight runs over 4 1/3 innings in the night cap of Monday's doubleheader against the Orioles, increasing his ERA from 6.19 to 6.49 on the year … Brendan Ryan (back, neck) and Casper Wells (head, illness) were slated to undergo MRIs on Monday ... The Indians called right-hander Zach McAllister up from Triple-A Columbus to start Tuesday night against the White Sox … The Blue Jays haven't ruled out Kyle Drabek making another start this season …