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What Is a Save in Baseball? Complete Guide

What Is a Save in Baseball? Complete Guide

You may be wondering about a lot of baseball terms and stats and what they mean. One that you may have heard of is a save. You probably know that it has to do with pitching, but maybe not how or why.

This guide will give information about what is a save in baseball.

The History of Saves in Baseball

The save statistic was created by Jerome Holtzman in 1959 to “assess the effectiveness of relief pitchers” and became an official MLB statistic in 1969. Before that date, saves were retroactively calculated for pitchers.

Rivera holds the MLB record for most saves, having broken Trevor Hoffman’s mark on September 19, 2011.

What is a Save in Baseball?

To put things in perspective, a save occurs when a pitcher comes into the game with an advantage after having recorded three outs. If the visiting team holds a three-run lead or fewer in the top half of the inning, their relief pitcher comes in and closes the game.

A save is given to the relief pitcher who saves a game for the team winning, under some certain circumstances. When a relief pitcher secures a save, he must maintain his team’s lead by doing one of the following: going into the game with a deficit of no more than three runs and throwing at least one inning.

The situation at the time the pitcher enters the game determines how many chances he gets. A pitcher cannot create his or her own save opportunities. If a relief pitcher enters with a four-run lead and it’s not a save situation, they will not be able to earn a save no matter how the game ends.

The most typical scenario in which a relief pitcher earns the save is when he enters the ninth inning of a game in which his team is leading by three or fewer runs and finishes the game by pitching one inning without allowing the lead to change.

How Pitchers Earn a Save

There are several situations in which a pitcher can earn his team the win, but still not get credited with the save.

  1. A reliever gets credit for a Save when he meets all of these conditions: He is the finishing pitcher.
  2. He has one or more runners on base when he enters the game (runners already on do not have to be inherited by a reliever).
  3. He finishes the game without giving up the lead.

In addition, a pitcher can be credited with a Save by recording at least one out in this situation: He enters the game and pitches effectively for three or more outs before he gives up his team’s lead; however, after that point, his team regains their lead and he finishes the game.

If a reliever comes into the game and records one or more outs, but then allows the tying run to score, he will not get credited with the save. If he retires the side after that, he would still earn the save.

Saves are also not given if a pitcher enters into a game that is already won.

How Many Times Can a Save Happen in Baseball?

A reliever can’t earn back-to-back saves in a game unless he has multiple save opportunities, which only happens if the reliever temporarily changes positions before returning to pitching.

The official scorer has some discretion in the last situation, as to whether or not to award a save. This is rule 10.20 of the Major League Rules, which has been adopted by the majority of baseball leagues. In each game, you may only receive one save. A save opportunity occurs when a pitcher enters the game in the situations described above.

Pitchers Who Earn Saves

Several relief pitchers in baseball are known for their ability to earn saves. The most common name that comes up is Mariano Rivera, who has the record for most career saves.

  1. To become a successful reliever and possibly earn some saves, you need to have good stuff. You have to be able to get batters out consistently, so you can pitch whenever your team needs an extra hand.
  2. The next step is learning how to hold on to runners and keep the lead without giving up runs after entering into a safe situation. Once this happens, then you will need some luck for more opportunities to come about that can earn you a save.
  3. When trying to get into the closer’s role, focus on improving your control and stamina so that when opportunities arise, you can seize them and deliver with excellence. This will come in time with practice and continued effort in developing your skills as an elite reliever.
  4. A relief pitcher who records a save must keep his arm loose and be ready to pitch the next day.

What is a Blown Save?

Blown saves are common in baseball. A relief pitcher earns a blown save when he enters the game with the potential to earn the win but instead surrenders either two or three runs that change his team’s lead to an eventual loss.

Thus, if you enter into a safe situation and then give up your team’s lead for good, you have blown the save.

To avoid this, pitchers must make sure they are prepared to pitch in high-pressure situations when called upon by their manager or team captain.

If your numbers look good and your arm feels fine after pitching, then there’s a chance that you will be given another opportunity for some more saves tomorrow. If you blow the save, don’t worry. It’s all part of the game.

Saves are an important statistic in baseball because they can show how effective a relief pitcher is at finishing games. A reliever who earns saves regularly is often considered valuable to his team.

Certain pitchers in baseball are known for their ability to earn saves, and they are often called upon in high-pressure situations.

What Is a Save in Baseball? Complete Guide

What is a Hold?

A hold is given to a relief pitcher who enters the game in a save situation and maintains his team’s margin for the following reliever. A pitcher cannot earn a win or save in a game in which he records a hold. However, a single player can record a hold in several games.

Unlike saves, wins, and losses, a pitcher on each team can obtain a hold for a game. A pitcher can receive more than once in the same game, however, no single player can achieve this.

If the relievers who come in to relieve the next pitcher give up two runs, they get a blown hold statistic, but not a blown save. When a starting pitcher goes eight innings and the relief pitcher fails to preserve the lead in the ninth, he will get the blown save.

Tips in Earning a Save in Baseball

Baseball is a unique sport with its own set of rules and strategies. In fantasy baseball, you don’t need to know the intricacies of how to play – if you’ve drafted a team then we assume that’s enough – but there are still fundamentals for playing fantasy baseball and understanding the statistics and history which surround this great game.

Today, we will discuss one of the most important statistics in all of baseball: the save. The bullpen is perhaps the most intangible area in all of baseball; it’s where good relievers go to turn into great ones, and where no-name players become legends.

  1. To earn a save in baseball, you must enter the game to protect a lead of no more than three runs.
  2. You also must finish the game without relinquishing the lead, unless you are replaced with a reliever who likewise meets both criteria.
  3. Although this is not exactly groundbreaking great news for relief pitchers, it’s important to remember that your best relievers will see action in games where there is at least some degree of saving opportunity.


  1. There are several ways to determine if a pitcher will see action in a save situation, with the two most obvious being when there is a closer on your roster and whether or not he pitches when the team enters with a one-run lead during the ninth inning.
  2. Another factor that you should consider is the scoring rules of your league. Most leagues with innings limits will provide save opportunities for middle relievers, and there’s no harm in considering this when making roster decisions.
  3. A team’s offensive prowess also plays a role in who will earn the save; the more runs they score, the less likely it becomes that a reliever will give up those runs.

Therefore, it is somewhat common for closers on poor offensive teams to have no save opportunities. Finally, match-ups also play a role in whether or not a closer will see action with a save opportunity.

The closer that pitches against the opponent with the highest batting average is more likely to earn a save.

If your league does not use innings limits, you should expect to see most of your closers working in two- or three-inning stints. This will vary by team but it is important to remember that most managers do this for match-up purposes.

Working on Holds in Baseball

Holds in baseball are essentially the same thing as holds in other sports. It’s when a relief pitcher comes into the game to hold onto a lead for his team. However, there is no statistical significance to this ‘rule’ like there are with saves and holds in baseball.

How Holds Are Awarded

The way that managers’ award holds has always been a mystery to me. There is actually a specific way to do it, but they always vary from manager to manager and even from one bullpen session to the next.

Generally speaking though, if a reliever pitches in a save situation that his team ends up winning then he will most likely earn a hold. Most managers have been awarding holds this way since the beginning of time.

How Holds Are Calculated

As I mentioned above, holds are not a statistic that is recognized by Major League Baseball. However, there are some sites on the internet that do calculate holds for players. The most popular site to do so is’s stat page as they use their algorithm for calculating holds. The system is very simple and it has four parameters that must be met for a pitcher to qualify for the hold statistic.

Those are as follows:

1) The reliever must enter the game with his team in the lead, but not further ahead than three runs.

2) The reliever must finish the game without relinquishing that lead.

3) The reliever cannot be the winning pitcher.

4) The reliever cannot have a save opportunity.

Pitchers Who Meet the Holds Criteria

Using those parameters as criteria, it can be calculated that about two-thirds of all major league relievers qualify for the hold statistic given that they finish a game without giving up the lead.

Most likely, there are relief pitchers who can be awarded more than one hold in a game because of the lack of strict criteria for awarding holds. There are also times when pitchers meet all four criteria and they still don’t receive credit for hold because the game ends up getting out of hand.

For example, there was only one reliever on the mound when his team came out victorious and that pitcher never even got an opportunity to finish the game, but he would still qualify for a hold.

Types of Relief Pitching Situations That Lead to Holds

Several different types of relief pitching situations lead to holds being awarded. However, most times it happens when a reliever comes into a game that his team leads by three runs or less and he pitches in the game.

In close games, it’s commonplace for a manager to use more than one reliever before getting to his closer. In these cases, if any of those relief pitchers hold onto the lead then they will receive credit for a hold. Another common situation that leads to holds is when a reliever comes into the game with runners on base.

The truth is that there are so many different scenarios where relief pitchers receive credit for the hold statistic, but every manager has his strategy for awarding holds, and sometimes they can even contradict one another.

Strategies for Scoring in a Baseball Game

In baseball, the strategy for scoring in a game is very different from what you see in other sports. In basketball and football, it’s important to get as many points on the board before halftime so that your team can hold onto their lead going into the second half of play.

In baseball, that’s not always the case. It can sometimes be more beneficial for a team to score as many runs as possible early in the game and then hold onto their lead going into late innings.

That is because if the pitcher puts up several zeros after scoring those initial runs at home before he gives up any singles or doubles, then it’s going to be very difficult for the opponent to come back.

Here are some strategies…

1. Lead off the game with a run before scoring any more. If you can put up one run in the first inning, then that puts pressure on the other team to match that one run or else be shut down going into their half of inning number two.

2. Steal bases when runners are on. If you have a runner at second base and nobody on first, then there’s no reason to risk an out by stealing third when you can wait until there are two outs in the inning.

3. Get the starter out of the game as soon as possible. If your starting pitcher can’t find his control in the early innings, then it might be better to get him out of there before he can give up multiple runs.

What Drills in Baseball Are Needed to Be an Expert at Saves?

For every coach who loves practicing ball drills, they must have a better understanding of the reasons a drill is necessary for a player. Whether it’s to master a skill or enhance their performance, each drill has an efficient purpose that can help you learn different aspects about yourself and your game.

Here are the top 3 ball drills in baseball to be an expert at saves.

1. One of the most important things to master in baseball is throwing a ball, especially the mechanics on your pitching arm. It’s not just about how fast you can throw or how accurate you are, but more importantly on your technique and form when you’re on the mound (if you’re a pitcher). To practice this, you can do the Distance Drill.

2. Throwing for distance is appropriate if your pitcher already has that skill mastered. If not, then there are other techniques he needs to be familiar with to excel on the mound. You can use the 3-Step Drill to help him work on controlling his pitches and making sure he is hitting his target on both sides of the plate.

3. If your pitcher is doing well with these drills, he can then re-focus more of his attention on controlling his pitches by mastering the 10-80 Drill. It’s perfect for getting him ready for game time and building up that confidence that he will do just fine when it’s time to shine on the mound.

These drills should be mandatory for your game. If you want to be a closer that everyone admires, then mastering these skills is how you do it. It all comes down to hard work and dedication, but the best part is it will pay off in the end.

What Is a Save in Baseball? Complete Guide


When talking about saves in baseball, it’s important to understand the strategies behind it. There are different ways to score in a game, and sometimes it’s more beneficial for a team to hold onto their lead going into late innings.

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