While Jonathan Papelbon saved 13 of his first 14 appearances last year, prior to imploding for a league-leading seven blown saves, it’s hard to argue that Papelbon’s 2015 season hasn’t been a major-rebound from a career-worst season. Papelbon has saved 15 of his 16 save attempts this year (those fifteen have been consecutive after blowing the first), and while he doesn’t have the electric “velo” that he once did, Papelbon’s fastball has gotten back to the low-90s this year, after he struggled last year with a fastball that was topping out in the high-80s.
It’s fair to wonder if Papelbon was used more if he would be able to keep his velocity at that level, but for the time being, the fact that he has pitched well this year and has been uncharacteristically quiet, might mean that Pap has recouped some of his trade value.
The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo passed this along yesterday, giving us the opinion of Papelbon from the eyes of a scout, and speculation on two teams that COULD potential be landing spots for him.
4. Jonathan Papelbon, RHP, Phillies — Papelbon earned his 300th career save last week. He’s pitching a lot better and there’s an expectation that he could be one of the first Phillies to go once they decide to deal. One AL scout who has watched Papelbon’s outings indicated, “I’ll give him credit. I think he’s learning to pitch with what he’s got left. He’s not 96-98 [miles per hour], but he’s getting back up to 92-93 and making a lot of good adjustments.” A future Tiger, Oriole?
Hopefully teams like the Tigers and Orioles, both of whom need stability at the closer position, are the ones who have scouts that feel like this.
Last week, ESPN’s Jayson Stark seemed to get the idea from a few scouts that Papelbon’s 2014 success had been somewhat of a fluke.
Jonathan Papelbon-Stark said that he talked to numerous team executives, and found one executive that felt that if the Phillies picked up a decent percentage of Papelbon’s salary, his team would have interest. According to Stark, the rest of the executives were amazed at how well Papelbon has pitched this year (13 saves in 14 opportunities and a 1.54 ERA), considering that he doesn’t throw as hard as he once did. Stark made it seem like most team’s around the MLB think Papelbon’s season has been a fluke thus far.
In the case of moving Papelbon, it really only takes one seriously interested team. Papelbon isn’t going to get a great return, but if the Phillies can get his ego out of the clubhouse and avoid paying at least some of his $13 million salary for 2015, that would be ideal. And hey, that Ken Giles kid might be a pretty good replacement option, huh?