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Entries in Jonathan Papelbon (10)


So why not, Jonathan Papelbon?

With the news that Andrew Bailey is most likely done for the season, with Joel Hanrahan done for the season, with Daniel Bard having spiraled to the minor leagues, with Junichi Tazawa already having appeared in 43 games, the most of his career, and with the 38-year old Koji Uehara already having appeared in 44 games, the second-most games of his career, Red Sox Nation is crying out for Jonathan Papelbon.

So, why not?

Pap is the club's all-time saves leader with 219, ahead of Bob Stanley's 132 and Dick Radatz' 104.

So, why not?

Papelbon is the only reliever in baseball who has had seven consecutive seasons from 2006-12 with 30+ saves.

So, why not?

  • In 2010, Papelbon's ERA was 3.90
  • in 2011, Papelbon's ERA was 2.94
  • in 2012, Papelbon's ERA was 2.44
  • in 2013, Papelbon's ERA is 2.33

So, why not?

  • in 2011, Papelbon's WHIP was 0.933
  • in 2012, Papelbon's WHIP was 1.057
  • in 2013, Papelbon's WHIP is 0.905

So, why not?

I'll tell you why not?

Those numbers look really good, but these don't: 

  • 92.8
  • 91.4
  • 89.9 

Those aren't numbers on your FM dial, those are the 2011, 2012, and 2013 decreasing average speeds of Papelbon's pitches.

Here are three more numbers: 

  • 97.5
  • 96.4
  • 95.5 

Those are the 2011, 2012, and 2013 decreasing maximum speeds of Papelbon's pitches.

Here are three more numbers: 

  • 75.4%
  • 70.6%
  • 69.7% 

That's the declining percentage of the fastballs that Papelbon is throwing as he realizes that this pitch is losing its effectiveness. He is increasingly relying on his splitter as a replacement.

I'm not done

Here are three more numbers: 

  • 32.2%
  • 27.0%
  • 20.5% 

That's the declining swing-and-miss rate on Papelbon's fastball. The less you swing and miss, the more you put balls in play, and more balls in play, the more trouble you get into.

Let's look at two years 

  • Papelbon's slugging against 2011 pct. - .299
  • Papelbon's slugging against 2013 pct. - .329
  • 2011 homers allowed - 3
  • 2013 homers allowed - 4
  • Papelbon's strike out 2011 pct. - 34.1%
  • Papelbon's strike out 2013 pct. - 22.7%
  • Papelbon's pitches in the zone 2011 pct. - 50.0%
  • Papelbon's pitches in the zone 2013 pct. - 46.8% 

That last number is particularly telling because it's indicative of Papelbon's loss of control getting into the strike zone, which enables us to comfortably to assume his control within the strike zone is not as sharp, and since his stuff is clearly not as strong, Papelbon is losing effectiveness.

And it's getting worse

Since June 17, Papelbon has appeared in 10 games, won two, saved saved, blown five saves, allowed both runners he inherited to score, and has a 3.86 ERA.

He's had just two 1-2-3 innings

You can see why he's given up 15 hits in 14 innings and batters are hitting .273 with lefties hitting .333.

Finally, why not Jonathan Papelbon?

Papelbon is making $13 million this year.

And next.

And the year after that.

And, if he finishes 55 games in 2015 or 100 in 2014-15, he'll make another $13 million in 2016

So, there are many reasons why the Red Sox (and the Tigers and other teams looking for bullpen help) are in no rush to give up prospects and spend big money to acquire Pap, as much fun as he is to have around.


The Red Sox are over-using Koji Uehara

The Red Sox have had nothing but trouble in the closer's slot ever since they let Jonathan Papelbon escape to Philadelphia after the 2011 season.

It's been a series of bad judgments, bad performances, and bad injuries in the back of the pen.

The Sox have seen eight different relievers earn at least one save for Boston 

Rk Player SV From To G GF
1 Alfredo Aceves 25 2012 2013 78 57
2 Andrew Bailey 14 2012 2013 47 30
3 Koji Uehara 5 2013 2013 40 12
4 Joel Hanrahan 4 2013 2013 9 6
5 Franklin Morales 1 2012 2013 43 6
6 Junichi Tazawa 1 2012 2013 77 20
7 Mark Melancon 1 2012 2012 41 17
8 Vicente Padilla 1 2012 2012 56 10
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/7/2013.

Koji Uehara is the latest to try closing

Koji Uehara is an exuberant, youthful 38-years old, but he has never appeared in as many games prior to the All-Star break.

  2009 2 4 .333 4.05 12 12 0 0 66.2 7 12 48 1.245
  2010 0 0   4.00 10 0 3 0 9.0 0 4 10 1.667
  2011 1 1 .500 2.03 37 0 17 0 40.0 6 8 52 0.750
  2012 0 0   2.11 20 0 8 0 21.1 3 2 22 0.703
  2013 2 0 1.000 1.93 40 0 12 5 37.1 5 8 53 0.830
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/7/2013.

In addition, he has never been in as many pressure situations as you can see by virtue of the fact that these are his first pre-break saves.

From June 26 - July 6

  • Koji has appeared in eight games.
  • He is 2-0.
  • He's earned four saves and blown two saves.
  • He has a 1.23 ERA and 0.704 WHIP.
  • He's pitched 7.1 innings, allowed four hits, one homer, one walk, and 11 whiffs.

Uehara has thrown 118 pitches, 87 strikes

Of the 118 pitches, 54 are fastballs, 59 are splitters

Uehara is throwing 74% of his pitches for strikes, but he is really heavily in the strike zone. There is not a lot of working of corners.

  • He averages 89.3 on the fastball.
  • He averages 81.1 on the splitter.

When you throw at that speed, location is an imperative

As you can see, too many Uehara pitches are up in the zone. Instead of working up-and-down, Koji's fastballs and splitters are working either side of the plate and that reduces the room for error.

Last night in Anaheim

Koji blew the save last night in the Red Sox 9-7 loss to the Angels. He cam into the game with the bases full, one down in the 9th trying to close out a 7-4 game.

He didn't.


  • He faced four batters and allowed two hits which permitted the three inherited runners to score and then when Brandon Snyder tossed the ball into right field on what should hav been the third out, the tying run scored. Uehara should never have put the Sox in that position, he just couldn't put anyone away.
  • He threw four fastballs - averaging 89.1. Batters swung at three, missed one.
  • He threw one slider - it was in a great location, low and away but it was 84.8 and at that speed Albert Pujols made the adjustment and lined it for a two-run single.
  • He threw 12 splitters - averaging 81.0. Batters swung at nine, missed four, but one went for a Josh Hamilton RBI single.
  • He has now allowed seven-of 19 inherited runners to score. Among prelievers who have inherited at least 15 base runners this season, Uehara ranks 56th with a an IRS tax rate of 36.84%.

Bottom Line

Koji is a good pitcher who seems to be a fun teammate. He is not built to be a closer, at least certainly not the closer of a post-season team, but he's a terrific bridge to the closer. 

Chances are really good that Red Sox GM Ben Cherington already knows that and is working those phones and hopefully for Boston he will land some bullpen help before Uehera is running on empty.


Peter Gammons: MLB Sources Say...

The Future of Nolasco and Garza

The Giants have been in on Rickey Nolasco and Matt Garza. The Padres, have, as well, and one National League official thinks the Giants will act quickly with Miami and that the Padres will on Garza, as well. The Cubs, of course, know the Padres farm system well, since Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod turned that organization around. One chip might be former Boston number one pick Reymond Fuentes, a center fielder/leadoff hitter who is hitting .332 with a .419 on base percentage and .891 OPS with 23 stolen bases in Double-A San Antonio.

Wanted: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

There were more than 50 major league scouts and personnel people at Cuban refugee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s start in Tijuana last Thursday, and he impressed. “The Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers may have seen every one of his workouts or outings,” says one GM. He has been cleared by MLB, but still has immigration paperwork to sift through, but something could happen quickly since most of the teams think he could pitch in the majors this season. The favorites? The Dodgers, of course. It was suggested to an official of one interested team that he should get his team to buy Key West and head off the Dodgers. His reply? “It might not be enough to beat L.A.”

Back in the Game

There is considerable speculation throughout the game that Andy MacPhail is willing to come back in a baseball operations role after a year-and-a-half out of the game. MacPhail’s tenure in Baltimore is a major reason for their rebirth. He got Adam Jones and Chris Tillman for Eric Bedard. Koji Uehara got Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter. He got J.J. Hardy for nothing, drafted Manny Machado and has two World Series rings from his Minnesota days.

The Mets Next Step

The injury to Lucas Duda and the recall of Ike Davis will just add to what will be a fascinating decision for the end of the Mets season. They know Duda can hit, but he is far more comfortable at first base than in the outfield, so if Davis doesn’t hit this time around, his tenure at Citi Field could be closed out. The Matt Harvey-Zack Wheeler leap has changed the franchise perception, but clubs that watch Noah Syndergaard in Port St, Lucie think he’ll be ready at this time next year, same for 22-year Rafael Montero, now in Las Vegas and joined by 22-year old power lefthanded reliever Jack Leathersich in Triple-A with 66 strikeouts in 35.2 minor league innings he may be on track for this season. With some of the vulnerabilities in the National League East, the Mets can get back into contention on power pitching, and rather than trade that young power pitching,  find a shortstop and a couple of outfielders on the free agent market.

Assets Secured in Philly

Granted, Jonathan Papelbon has blown four of his last five save opportunities, but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro continues to insist he’s not trading his closer, or Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels, not with an impending television deal. While the Tigers, Red Sox and Dodgers continue to look in the closer market, they have had no luck. The Twins have gotten a lot of calls on Glen Perkins, who has blossomed into an elite closer, but as one GM points out, “he’s from Minnesota and with the best farm system in the game, the Twins are going to turn it around quickly and Terry Ryan wants Perkins there when it happens.” Teams have called the Marlins about Steve Cishek, but they have him at the minimum for another season and need to hold leads for Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Jacob Turner. The White Sox will move Jesse Crain in his walk year, and while Crain hadn’t allowed an earned run since April 12 (he allowed two unearned runs on June 23 when he picked up a blown save) the fact remains that he has four saves in ten major league seasons and clubs don’t have a history with him at the back end.

Boston almost at the mid-point

Andrew Bailey (Red Sox)“The problem with giving up a lot for a closer is that you don’t know how he fits in another team’s role, or that city,” says one GM. The Red Sox, of course, know all too well with the struggles of Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey. The latter simply hasn’t had the same stuff since returning from a disabled list stint due to a forearm strain and is back pitching earlier in games to try to regain velocity, movement and confidence. Franklin Morales’ velocity and stuff are down considerably from last year; he may never recover from his usage last season. So if they can’t find anyone on the market, they could turn to some of their young starters in the minors and give Brandon Workman (who some feel is a closer in waiting), Ruby De La Rosa and lefthander Drake Britton (95 MPH) hots in the ensuing weeks.

Boston is now home for 10 games with Colorado, Toronto and San Diego after a May 31-June 23 run in which they played 23 games against contenders (OK, the Angels are underachieving contenders) and went 12-11 with their bullpen strung out. Their starters went 9-7, 4.08 with 11 quality starts, and Alfredo Aceves, Clay Buchholz and Ryan Dempster were the only starters to win two games. Buchholz hasn’t pitched since June 8, Jon Lester has hit a patch and while they remain confident that Allen Webster will be a top-of-the-rotation starter, his two outings have not gone well. Thursday is the midpoint of the 2013 season, and, closer or no closer, if Buchholz and Lester don’t pitch as they have and can, they aren’t going to win the division.

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