Craig Kimbrel continues to be better than Billy Wagner; sets new rookie saves record

On Wednesday, Braves closer Craig Kimbrel saved his 41st game of the year, breaking the single-season rookie record that Rangers closer Neftali Feliz set last season. Kimbrel, who's only 23 years old, is having a remarkable season, now having gone 34 straight appearances without giving up a run. He has an astronomical 14.66 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio, he's converted 23 consecutive saves, he's given up only one home run all season and with 107 strikeouts, he's poised to become just the sixth reliever since the turn of the century to record 120 K's. (Eric Gagne, B.J. Ryan, Octavio Dotel, Brad Lidge and Carlos Marmol were the others.) So basically, unless he completely implodes over the final month of the year and Freddie Freeman hits five home runs in a game, there's no way Kimbrel won't walk away with the Rookie of the Year award.

The crazy part, though, is that he has absolutely no job security. Braves set-up man Jonny Venters is almost as good as Kimbrel; his 9.9 strikeouts-per-nine-innings isn't, but he has a lower WHIP and a lower ERA, and he too has only given up one home run all season. So it's almost like Kimbrel has to keep pitching this well, since there's no reason to tolerate a dry-spell from him when there's a guy like Venters working in the same bullpen.

Of course, the one thing Kimbrel has going for him is that he's a right-hander and Venters is a lefty. For whatever reason, managers are reluctant to make left-handed relievers anything other than a "specialist," which is odd since there seem to be just as many left-handed power hitters as there are right-handed. The aforementioned Neftali Feliz is the only current left-handed closer in Major League Baseball, and he has no job security either with studs like Koji Uehara and Mike Adams setting him up. The last lefty to lead the National League in saves was Cubs closer Randy Myers, who saved 38 games in 1995.

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