A Closer Look at the Save Rule in Sunday’s Game

Zach McAllister didn’t even get credit Sunday for saving the Astros from the fire works expense of a victory celebration.


The Rules Scoring Supposition for Save Awards

Under certain defined conditions, relief pitchers may earn a Save (Sv) credit for coming into a game and protecting a lead that is never yielded prior to the recording of the last out in the game.

These three conditions are all based upon the premise that the qualifying pitcher never yields the lead, even to a tie score status, and that he qualifies for the Sv award as follows:

(1) The pitcher enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or,

(2) The pitcher enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat or on deck; or,

(3) The pitcher pitches for at least three innings.

Affirmation for the Save Rules Correctness from the Box Score of the 5/21/17 Cleveland@Houston Game Linked Below:


Our Conclusion

It is our conclusion that the official scorer acted correctly in awarding no Sv to Indians relief pitcher Zach McAllister. He entered the game and pitched the 9th and final inning, but the score was 8-3, Cleveland, when his work started and 0nly 8-6, Cleveland, when the game ended. McAllister had yielded 3 earned runs on two home runs in the 9th, but he did not qualify for a Sv credit by any of the three conditions that are currently in place.

What brought this request to mind was the comment I heard Astros TV voice Todd Kalas make after Alex Bregman hit the second of two consecutive home runs off McAllister. “It is now a save situation with the tying run on deck,” Kalas noted, with no further reference. And we don’t mean to take it out on Todd Kalas. We probably would have made the same kind of mistake many times over in the bright sunshine of his big league audience world – and maybe over the same rule.

In fact, what really sent me running to Google the save award rules noted above was my own state of uncertainty about them. I first thought, “maybe Todd’s right. Maybe some pitchers are getting saves awarded for games that did slap them back into their fields of eligibility by big scores that slipped the margins of victory down to close scores in the late goings.

I was all so ready to tear into the rules makers for leaving another hole in the boat of pitching credit stats when I looked more closely today – and I now think I saw a place where the rules writers got it right.

Unless a pitcher has been in the game for three innings, he can’t shave a bunch of runs off a big lead in order to qualify for a save. The credit is tied to both what a pitcher does – and how long he’s been in the game. And any “closer” today is still worth his salt in save credits if he can come into a game in the 9th with a one-run lead and hold it for a victory.

It also makes me wonder. – Are there some official scorekeepers out there who might have given McAllister a save today for what he did in the 9th at Minute Maid Park?


Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle



2 Responses to “A Closer Look at the Save Rule in Sunday’s Game”

  1. Fred Soland Says:

    Bill, I assume Kalas meant it would now be a save situation if another pitcher was employed. The rules have always been the conditions that existed when the pitcher enters the game and throws his first pitch.

    However, apply your rules to this situation:

    A starting pitcher pitches 8 strong innings and has a 3-0 lead going into the 9th inning. He walks the first batter he faces. His manager comes out to bring in a left handed specialist to deal with the next two hitters, both left handed. The manager, being fairly crafty, pulls a unique double switch. He removes the right fielder (who incidently made the last out in the previous inning, inserting the new pitcher in his spot in the order. However, he sends the starting pitcher out to play right field, with the thought that the right handed hitter that follows the two lefties has never hit the starting pitcher very well.
    The left handed specialist gets both of the lefties out, with the runner only moving to second base.

    Now, our crafty manager comes out to make another pitching change. He removes the lefty from the game, brings in a new right fielder, and hands the ball back to his starting pitcher to face the next hitter. The Starter holds true to form and strikes out the hitter to preserve the victory.

    Question, who gets the win and who gets the save??

    The answer is the starting pitcher gets the win, the lefty gets a hold, and there is no save awarded, even though it was definitely a save situation. The reason, the same pitcher cannot be awarded a win and a save in the same game.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks for the cool head, Fred. That well may be what Kalas thought when he uttered his save situation comment after the second 9th inning homer. It simply isn’t a save situation until a save eligible pitcher enters the game – and that probably would have happened had Aoki reached first with two outs and brought Springer to the plate as the tying run against whomever replaced McAllister.

      As for your magical managerial maneuver in the hypothetical, all I have the energy for tonight is “ouch.”

      You are absolutely correct.

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