Sports

Jason Grilli has been lights out for Pirates

Closer Jason Grilli, right, has been lights out for the Pirates this season.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Closer Jason Grilli, right, has been lights out for the Pirates this season.

First-year closer Jason Grilli of the Pirates has been stellar this season, converting his first 23 save opportunities. And he’s not alone: Edward Mujica of the Cardinals (18 for 18), Grant Balfour of the Athletics (15 for 15), and Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies (11 for 11) all went unscathed to start this season (minimum 10 saves).

The perfect closer season has only been accomplished six times since 1969, when baseball first started keeping track of save opportunities. The perfect seasons (minimum 20 saves):

PitcherTeamYearSavesERAWHIP
Jose ValverdeTigers2011492.241.189
Brad LidgePhillies2008411.951.226
Michael GonzalezPirates2006242.171.352
Eric GagneDodgers2003551.200.692
Rod BeckPadres2003201.781.019
Rod BeckGiants1994282.721.274

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* Valverde (3 for 3) and Lidge (7 for 7) were also perfect in the postseason in those years. Gonzalez, Gagne, and Beck’s teams did not make the playoffs.

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