Hey, just in case you’re not all-in with the Phillies this year, it might be news to you that Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save opportunity of the year last night, giving up three runs in the ninth. His inning looked like this:
Thanks for playing.
“It’s a long season,” Papelbon said afterward. “One of the strong points of my game is being able to bounce back and not having any memory of the previous game, good or bad. I’ve just got to continue down the path.”
But Papelbon’s performance as closer has been a concern since last summer, one of many concerns surrounding the Phillies entering Spring Training. He blew seven saves last season and his 80.6 save percentage ranked 29th out of 32 qualifying closers. His fastball velocity has dropped nearly three mph from his final season in Boston in 2011 and his strikeout rate last season hit a career low. He averaged 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings from 2007-12, but just 8.3 last season.
More on that fastball velocity. Here’s Pap’s average fastball velocity, via BrooksBaseball.net, since he came to the Phillies (including his very effective 2012):
I HATH SEEN NO MORE FASTBALL. Papelbon, the highest paid closer in baseball history because Ruben Amaro is an idiot, is obviously a different pitcher than he once was. His overpowering fastball set up his other less effective pitches and now he has no fastball. I don’t even have a conclusion for this post. Just, get used to this. The best pitcher in the Phillies’ bullpen stinks.