Time To Be Concerned About Papelbon
On Monday night, Jonathan Papelbon had a perfect ninth inning against the Royals. However, last night was anything but perfect. For the second time this season, Papelbon not only blew the save, but also lost the game in the same inning.
The Royals hit singles the entire inning and it worked for them. Alex Gordon led off with a single through the shift and Salvador Perez ripped a single to left. Kansas City brought in Terrence Gore to pinch run for Perez and he was able to steal second despite a good throw by Ramos.
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As the inning continued, Papelbon did strike out Omar Infante, but Mike Moustakas was able to hit a 2-2 splitter into center for the tying hit. Later in the inning, after an Escobar base hit, Lorenzo Cain hit a 0-2 fastball into center field to end up winning the game.
The Royals are going to do this to a lot of teams throughout the season and that’s why they are never out of any game, but there is a lot to be concerned about regarding Papelbon. According to Fangraphs, his contact percentage of swings put in play by teams is 83.2%.
While he showed good movement on his fastball, the declining velocity is also a concern and it doesn’t allow much margin for error. Right now, his average velocity is at 90.8 miles per hour (Fangraphs). That doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective closer, according to his manager, Dusty Baker:
I do think Papelbon can be effective as the closer for the Washington Nationals going forward, but at the same time, this is something to keep monitoring as to whether or not he can consistently get the job done.