The starter left after five innings with a one run lead. (Actually, he was "pulled" after letting the first two batters on base in the sixth.) A reliever comes on, "strands" the two inherited runners in the sixth, then pitches the seventh and the eighth, that is a total of three innings. From what I understand, pitching three innings is one way to earn a save.

A closer pitches the ninth. And neither side scored after the starter left so the lead remained at one run.

Does the closer automatically get the save? Or might the three inning pitcher get the credit since he stranded two inherited runners? And it isn't possible for both of them to get the save, is it, even though both "qualify?"

1 Answer 1


The MLB rules state the following about saves:

A save is a statistic credited to a relief pitcher, as set forth in this Rule 10.19.

The official scorer shall credit a pitcher with a save when such pitcher meets all four of the following conditions:

(a) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his team;

(b) He is not the winning pitcher;

(c) He is credited with at least 1/3 of an inning pitched; and

(d) He satisfies one of the following conditions:

  1. He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning;

  2. He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batters he faces); or

  3. He pitches for at least three innings.

In your example, the closer qualifies for the save since he satisfies all 4 conditions. The reliever who came on in the 6th and pitched 3 innings cannot qualify for the save since he was not the finishing pitcher.

  • 1
    OK. So a closer entering the game with an advantage of "too many" runs under a) and b) won't get the save unless he pitches three innings or more.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 19:05
  • @TomAu I just found updated save rules and edited my answer. It doesn't change the answer with respect to your example. Commented Oct 5, 2014 at 19:25
  • I wonder why (c) isn't redundant? How can a pitcher be the finishing pitcher without recording the final out? Wouldn't that give him 1/3 IP? Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 14:53
  • 3
    @NateEldredge It is possible for a pitcher to finish a game without recording any outs - if he comes in and they call the game before he can record an out. Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 15:37
  • 1
    We need to see a box score of such a game to verify that provision. Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 20:58

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