Papelbon Off To Strong Start
While it has only been seven games, it is Jonathan Papelbon that is currently the Major League leader in saves with five. It wasn’t a pretty save last night when Papelbon gave up a one-out single to A.J. Pierzynski, but he got Erick Aybar to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
So far, four of his five saves have come against the Braves, which has gotten him off to a great start. Plus, this is the start Papelbon needed if he wanted to win back some of the fans after last year’s incident with Bryce Harper.
Papelbon is not going to be one of those closers that dominates every night, but at least he has the veteran mindset to get through a difficult situation. Here is what he had to say after the game about his great start:
"“My stuff has felt real good. It feels better than it has in many years. I physically feel better than I have in a lot of years.” (h/t Chase Hughes, CSNMidAtlantic.com)"
Papelbon was 10-for-12 in saves during the second half of last season with a 2.73 ERA. As I wrote during the offseason, Papelbon needed a first half like he had in Philadelphia where he was 14-for-14 in saves and had an ERA of 1.60.
The Nationals’ bullpen has been strong through the first week of the season. Last night, it was Papelbon and Oliver Perez (two strikeouts in the eighth inning), which continued to keep the Braves off the scoreboard after Roark’s strong outing.