February 4th, 2014
Craig Kimbrel became the youngest reliever ever to reach 50 saves in a season last year, and the first of those came in the Braves’ opener at Turner Field. It was a 7-5 victory over the Phillies en route to an eventual National League East title, and it happened when the fireballing right-hander retired Jimmy Rollins (strikeout swinging), Chase Utley (popup to short) and Ryan Howard (fly to left) in order in front of 51,456 fans. Nearly a third of all Braves games would end with Kimbrel being congratulated this way:
A month later, Kimbrel would record his 100th career save . . .
With 139 saves already in the bank at age 25, Kimbrel is well on his way toward great things. How far can he go? Could he challenge Mariano Rivera’s record one day? It happens one year at a time, and Kimbrel and the Braves open the 2014 regular season March 31 at Milwaukee. Then the home opener at Turner Field is April 8 against the Mets.