Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Papelbon ’

Bullpen A Strength In Phillies’ Run

Ken GilesOne of the reasons for the Phillies’ recent success is their bullpen.

During their 7-2 run, the bullpen is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA, allowing 15 hits, three runs, three walks and striking out 32 batters in 25 innings.

But its success goes back further than nine games. It is 2-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 games since June 2, allowing 20 hits, five runs, six walks and striking out 46 in 37 1/3 innings. Its ERA, strikeout-to-walk ratio (7.67), strikeouts per nine innings average (11.09) and WHIP (0.70) are best in baseball in that stretch. It also is 4-2 with a 1.94 ERA in 26 games since May 22, allowing 45 hits, 18 runs, 31 walks and striking out 88 78 2/3 innings. It is first in WHIP (0.97), second in ERA and third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.07) in that stretch.

Here is a look at the individual numbers:

  • Jonathan Papelbon: He blew his second save of the season Monday in Atlanta, but is 2-0 with a 0.67 ERA and 16 saves in 17 opportunities since he blew his first save April 2 in Texas. He has allowed 16 hits, two runs, seven walks and has struck out 23 in 27 innings since.
  • Antonio Bastardo: He has not walked a batter in nine innings this month. In fact, he has allowed just one hit and struck out 10 in those six appearances. He also has a 0.50 ERA in 15 appearances since May 11. He has allowed four hits, one run, nine walks and has struck out 22 in 18 innings in that stretch.
  • Jake Diekman: He has a 2.95 ERA in 20 appearances since the end of April.
  • Justin De Fratus: He has not allowed a run in 11 appearances since being recalled from Triple-A late last month. He has allowed seven hits, two walks and has struck out 13 in 12 innings.
  • Mario Hollands: He has a 2.55 ERA this season, but he has not allowed a run in 14 appearances since May 7. He has allowed seven hits, six walks and has struck out 12 in 12 2/3 innings in that stretch.
  • Ken Giles: Since allowing a home run to the first batter he faced in the big leagues, he has allowed one hit, one walk and has struck out six in 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
  • Ethan Martin: Has only pitched twice since joining the team, and not once since June 7.

 

Bullpen Needs to Step Up, Help on Way?

Jonathan Papelbon,  Cliff LeeThe Phillies have their three best pitchers on the mound this weekend against the Nationals: Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels.

Ryne Sandberg will hand the ball to the bullpen at some point, and it is possible he will do it with a small lead or deficit. If the Phillies have a lead, will the bullpen hold it? If they’re down a run or two, will they keep it close to give the offense a chance to come back and win?

It has been a crap shoot all season.

The Phillies bullpen has a 4.84 ERA, which is the highest mark in the National League and the fourth-highest mark in baseball. It has allowed 1.45 home runs per nine innings, which is the highest mark in baseball.

Jonathan Papelbon has 10 scoreless appearances since blowing a save April 2 in Texas. What has hurt the bullpen has been the ineffectiveness of the young pitchers the organization thought had turned a corner. It has been the story the past two seasons. Pitchers like B.J. Rosenberg, Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst, etc., have pitched well late in the season, but haven’t followed up on that success. Jake Diekman, who remains in the bullpen, has been hurt by the long ball. He has allowed three homers this year, helping him to a 7.30 ERA.

As a result just three of the seven pitchers in the bullpen (Antonio Bastardo, Diekman and Mario Hollands) are homegrown. The others (Papelbon, Mike Adams, Shawn Camp and Jeff Manship) signed as free agents or Minor League free agents.

A lack of homegrown production from the bullpen is not a new thing. From 2004-13, the Phillies have had 15 different relief pitchers throw 50 or more innings in a season with less than a 3.50 ERA. Just four of those relievers were homegrown: Ryan Madson, Brett Myers, Geoff Geary and Bastardo. The others the Phillies acquired in trades (Billy Wagner and Brad Lidge), signed as free agents (Clay Condrey, Jose Contreras, Chad Durbin, Tom Gordon, Chan Ho Park, J.C. Romero and Papelbon), claimed off waivers (Aaron Fultz) or selected in the Rule 5 Draft (David Herndon).

But Phillies fans looking for outside help shouldn’t hold their breath. If a team has a good relief pitcher there is almost zero chance they will trade him in May. But there are unsigned relievers still out there like Ryan Madson, Kevin Gregg and Joel Hanrahan, although there has been some buzz around baseball Madson might not pitch again.

“We’ve had contact with all of those guys,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We’ll see.”

Double-A right-hander Ken Giles is throwing 100 mph and dominating hitters in the Eastern League. He has allowed eight hits, two earned runs, four walks and has struck out 25 in just 13 innings.

“He consistently throws very hard,” assistant general manager of player personnel Benny Looper said. “But there are a couple things he’s working on. One, commanding the fastball low in the strike zone. He’s throwing too many pitches up, belt high, that are hittable in the big leagues. The other thing is commanding his slider. He’s got to have that second pitch. It’s a good pitch and he’s making improvements with it, but he’s got to have a couple pitches he can go to. If big league hitters are sitting on his fastball and it’s thrown belt high they’re going to catch up with it. He’s making great progress. We love his arm and we love where he’s headed. But he’s where he needs to be right now. At some point we’d consider getting him against more veteran lineups like you’d see in Triple-A. That would happen at some point.”

In the meantime, the current relievers need to perform and the ones sent to Triple-A (Rosenerg, De Fratus and Brad Lincoln) need to show enough consistency to warrant a call back.

“It’s trusting their ability because they all have big league talent,” Amaro said. “It’s a matter of putting it together when it’s time to ring the bell.”

Howard’s Big Day

Ryan HowardIf you missed yesterday’s 10-9 victory against the Rockies you missed plenty, so here are a few facts, figures, thoughts and links:

  • Ryan Howard went 4-for-5 with a triple, home run, three RBIs and three runs scored. He is hitting .262 with a .360 on-base percentage, .508 slugging percentage and .868 OPS. It is just 18 games so nobody knows where his season is headed, but at the moment he is on pace for 36 home runs, 90 RBIs, 90 walks and 189 strikeouts. His 90 walks would be his most since 107 walks in 2007.
  • Howard fell a double short of the cycle, although he came close. He hit a ball to right field in the seventh inning that dropped in front of Rockies right fielder Brandon Barnes. The ball got behind Barnes as Howard cruised into second. The official scorer ruled it a single and an error on Barnes. Naturally, Phillies fans and many people in the Phillies clubhouse thought it should be a double. But not everybody in the clubhouse felt that way. Some thought it was a reasonable ruling. If it is changed, great for Howard. He will have the first Phillies cycle since David Bell in 2004, and the first Phillies cycle on the road since Johnny Callison in Pittsburgh in 1963. But if it isn’t, I don’t think it’s a great injustice. My first reaction when I watched the play? Single and error.
  • John Mayberry Jr. replaced Howard at first base in the bottom of the eighth inning. It is the second time it has happened in eight days, and it’s a trend that will continue if Howard continues to struggle defensively. (Ryne Sandberg said as much after the game.) Howard has two errors this season, but he recently had a third error reversed. He also had a catchable ball get past him Saturday in a 3-1 loss. It was ruled a hit, but it probably should have been an error. The Phillies simply do not have much margin for error this season, so in close games with a lead the Phillies need to have their best defense on the field. That means more Mayberry at first base and perhaps more Freddy Galvis in the infield and Tony Gwynn Jr. in the outfield.
  • Jonathan Papelbon picked up the save yesterday. He has struggled at Coors Field in the past. He spoke about that, but also being booed by Phillies fans. “To be honest, I enjoy it,” he said. “I kind of relish it. There is a sick side to me. … Guess I’m a sicko.”
  • Phillies catchers are trying to get used to these new catching rules on plays at the plate.

Cinco Ocho Goes Nature Boy In Ninth

Jonathan Papelbon recently changed his intro music from Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” to Meek Mill’s “Bout That Life.”

“Like that?” he said yesterday.

The opening to the song is interesting because the first 30 seconds are a speech from professional wrestler Ric Flair. Papelbon grew up a wrestling fan.

“I think everybody did, right?” he said.

Personally, I always loved Rowdy Roddy Piper and Piper’s Pit, but nevertheless … Papelbon said he and former Red Sox teammate Dustin Pedroia met Flair in Boston. Flair gave them one of his pink robes and a championship belt.

“I’ve been a Ric Flair guy,” Papelbon said. “The belt, Pedroia stole. I tried to get the belt back from him, but he won’t, so I’m getting his WWE Big Gold champion belt. It’s coming in. The real deal one. No (fake) one. Big Gold Belt.”

And the tune?

“I heard it in Spring Training,” he said. “Once I heard it I knew it was it. I really don’t care what comes up after it, either. I just like the beginning. It gets me going. That’s all that matters.”

If you’re interested, here is the latest music list for the Phillies:

AT BAT:

  • Cody Asche: Dat New New by Kid Cudi
  • Domonic Brown: The Devil Is A Lie by Rick Ross and Sexual Eruption by Snoop Dogg
  • Marlon Byrd: Get Like Me by David Banner and Work by DJ Smoke f/Gangstarr
  • Freddy Galvis: Poquito by Tego Calderon
  • Ryan Howard: Throwback by B.o.B f/Chris Brown
  • John Mayberry Jr: 100 Black Coffins by Rick Ross
  • Ben Revere: Happy by Pharrell Williams
  • Jimmy Rollins: 23 by Mike WiLL Made It and Trophies by Young Money
  • Carlos Ruiz: Vivir Mi Vida by Marc Anthony
  • Chase Utley: Kashmir by Led Zeppelin

PITCHING

  • Mike Adams: Intro by DMX
  • A.J. Burnett: The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson
  • Cole Hamels: Thunderstruck by AC/DC
  • Kyle Kendrick: Kick It In The Sticks by Brantley Gilbert
  • Cliff Lee: Stranglehold by Ted Nugent
  • Jonathan Papelbon: Bout That Life by Meek Mill
  • Jonathan Pettibone: Get Lucky by Daft Punk

This is through April 8. If a player or pitcher isn’t listed it’s because they haven’t selected a song.

Pap Rides Space Mountain Again

Jonathan Papelbon,  Cliff LeeJonathan Papelbon’s fastball never hit more than 91 mph in the ninth inning today at Wrigley Field, but he threw a clean inning to pick up his first save of the season and bury the nightmare of Wednesday’s blown save in Texas.

“This is what I chose to do,” he said following the 2-0 victory over the Cubs. “I take the ups with the downs. For some reason I enjoy it. I don’t know why. It’s a roller coaster ride. I liked Space Mountain as a kid, you know what I’m saying?”

Ryne Sandberg said Wednesday that Papelbon needed to mix his pitches better, which he said was addressed in between appearances. He said he noticed some improvement today.

It will be important moving forward. In the past, Papelbon could rear back and blow a 95 mph fastball past hitters.

Not anymore.

“I think I need to do more pitching,” Papelbon acknowledged. “If that’s what that means, yeah. The longer and longer I pitch I think the more and more I learn, so sometimes I need to be a pitcher more than a thrower. I get into that mode sometimes, just going out there and throw by guys or throw a pitch without a certain intent.

“You know, as the season goes on, hopefully my velo will be able to increase. I think everybody usually hits their peak around June. But right now I’m going to focus on just pitching.”

Positive or Negative, Pap Speaks

papelbon pressJonathan Papelbon spoke with reporters this afternoon at Bright House Field, and he had plenty to say about leadership, positivity, negativity and his performance on the field.

Much of the conversation centered on his attitude and influence in the clubhouse. It is no secret he wasn’t a happy man last season (examples HERE and HERE). He also didn’t dominate the ninth inning like he had in the past. A combination of those things are why the Phillies actively tried to trade him, not only before the July 31 Trade Deadline, but during the offseason. The Phillies simply felt he no longer fit into their clubhouse. But finding no takers for the $50 million closer, Papelbon returned to camp saying he plans to be a more positive influence in 2014.

Of course, he said similar things in Spring Training 2013, so we will see.

Here are some highlights from his meeting with reporters:

Q: Can you talk about the start of another spring training? Is your attitude different?
A: This year, I’m definitely trying to be a lot more of a positive influence and be more upbeat. It starts from Ryno. It starts from our manager in encouraging us to stay positive and be upbeat even though the last two seasons didn’t go as expected for myself and the rest of the guys in that clubhouse. This spring training is a big, big difference, just in the first few days. There is a lot more upbeat positivity. It’s night and day, it really is.

Q: Is it a reflection of Ryne Sandberg?
A: Every morning we have a meeting and Ryno. He talks about energy and spark. Bringing it every day. Last year and the year previous, we didn’t have that. We were losing games and I feel like we let losing get to the best of us. I let it get to me just as much as anybody. That’s a tough thing to do. As an athlete, we come out here and prepare and put so much hard work into it. When it doesn’t pay off, it’s a hard thing to deal with.

Q: Were you not a positive influence last year?
A: I’m just speaking for myself and nobody else. At times, when you lose 12 games in a row and you’re in Detroit and you say you didn’t come here for this, that gets spinned in a couple of directions. For me, I didn’t come here to lose. I came here to win. I came here to win a world championship. I don’t take losing very well. The one thing I can say that does upset me is a lot of you guys here — not pointing anyone out — took that as I’m a bad teammate, which is definitely not true. I’d break my back for my teammates. I’d do anything. They’re my brothers. I’m with them more than my family. If you could ask all 25 guys in there, I live and die for my teammates.

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Concerns at Closer?

Jonathan PapelbonThe Phillies have plenty of holes to fill this offseason, but closer is not one of them.

They paid Jonathan Papelbon $50 million to do that job.

He nearly blew a four-run lead last night in a 5-4 victory over the Braves at Turner Field.

Anybody can have a bad night and Papelbon hung his night on a hanging breaking ball to Braves right fielder Justin Upton, who hit a three-run home run. But there are reasons to be concerned about their high-priced closer. Papelbon, who is owed $26 million over the next two seasons, has blown seven of 36 saves this year. His 80.6 save completion percentage ranks 27th out of 30 pitchers with 20 or more save opportunities. His once intimidating fastball has averaged just 92.1 mph, 1.7 mph less than last season and 2.7 mph less than his final season with the Red Sox in 2012.

A surly Papelbon sat in a far corner of the Phillies clubhouse afterward, carrying a blank look on his face and insisting he is not worried about any of this.

“I guess if you guys think I’m not throwing hard enough,” he said, when asked if he thinks his velocity can come back next season. “I don’t know, maybe. Maybe it will. I don’t know. I don’t think think (velocity) really matters in this game. It’s velocity at the plate, life at the plate. It’s not how hard it comes out of your hand. It’s what it does near the plate.”

But Papelbon is striking out only 8.3 batters per nine innings this season, which is the lowest mark of his career. He averaged 10.0 or more strikeouts per nine innings over each of the previous six seasons. In the past, when he allowed a couple infield hits like he did last night, he could get a big strikeout to get himself out of trouble. But that is happening less and less frequently this season.

Papelbon had a hip issue earlier this season, but he downplayed its effect then and he downplayed it again last night. But Ryne Sandberg said it is something Papelbon has been working on, and he said hopefully when his closer is healthy he can starting throwing fastballs back in the 93-94 mph range.

Asked if Papelbon can be a shutdown closer if he is throwing in the 91-92 mph range, Sandberg said, “Well, he’s our guy right now for that. I see him getting some rest and getting back to throwing 94. I think that’s what he needs.”

The Phillies are more than willing to trade Papelbon in the offseason, but they might have trouble finding takers. They had virtually no interest in him before the July 31 Trade Deadline because he is owed not only $26 million over the next two seasons, but potentially $13 million more in 2016 based on a club option.

Papelbon was very critical of the team in July, saying changes needed to be made from top to bottom to improve. Asked again last night where he thinks this team is headed, he said, “We’re headed to go play golf.”

His former team won the American League East this season after losing 93 games last year. Maybe it could happen to the Phillies in 2014.

“Sure, but you saw what they did over there,” he said.

The Red Sox cleaned house.

Is Papelbon happy in Philadelphia? It is hard to tell.

“Yeah, I mean, I’m happy to be in a uniform, playing baseball,” he said. “But it’s not fun to lose though.”

Papelbon Blows Save, Stands By Comments

Jonathan PapelbonJonathan Papelbon blew his sixth save in 13 opportunities since mid-June in tonight’s 2-1 loss to the Giants.

He got booed pretty good coming off the field.

It’s partly because of his performance last night, partly because of his performance the past few weeks and partly because of the comments he made Sunday to MLB.com. Papelbon spoke for nearly eight minutes with reporters in the Phillies’ clubhouse afterward. Here are the highlights:

You have blown six saves. Do you have to look at yourself and figure out if something isn’t clicking?
No. Not me. I think my ball has life at the plate, which is all I really care about it. If I’m getting hit all over the ballpark with hard hit balls, I have to reassess, but after a night like tonight you just kind of chalk it up to that’s that. I felt like, honestly, I felt all of my pitches were working. I felt good. I felt strong. It was just one of those nights.

You were really hearing it from the fans, stemming from the comments you made Sunday. Do you those comments need clarity?
I think they speak for themselves. Whether I blow a game or whether I save a game, whatever is happening within the organization, I feel like I’m honest and forthcoming and I’m the same way after games like tonight. I accept things. I don’t shy away from things. That’s just the way I approach it and that’s just the way I go to work on a daily basis. I feel like that’s the best way to go about a day’s work is to just be honest with yourself and be honest with the position you’re in and not try to sugarcoat anything or trying to see something for what it’s not. That’s the way I’ve always been. I go by facts and I stand by what I say. I don’t feel like I said anything that was untrue.

Cole said he didn’t sign to lose, either. Did you get feedback from teammates? Did they say, I’m glad you said that?
No. What I say and what I do is based on seeing yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and if you’re working hard and if you’re not working hard and being real and not sugarcoating anything, I don’t think. This is the big leagues, this isn’t coach’s pitch. At the end of the day not everyone gets a trophy. You have to look yourself in the mirror and examine yourself if you’re consistently not getting the job done. You make adjustments, it’s a game of adjustments unless you don’t got to make any. It’s pretty simple, really.

Did you need to make any adjustments?
I think for me this year it’s been a constant adjustment on how to figure out how to go without pitching or pitching in tie ballgames a lot. I think for me more than anything there have been some situations that have come up that have been fairly new for me. I think for me I just try to go out there one day at a time to see how I can get better each day and not necessarily worry about struggling and whatnot.

Your strikeout numbers are down this year. (He averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings from 2010-12, but is averaging just 7.78 this season.) Is there an explanation?
I think every year is different. Like I said earlier, if I was giving up a lot of home runs or giving up lots of doubles and stuff like that, I would start to make adjustments. But after tonight I just chalk it up to that’s baseball.

What about your velocity being down? (His fastball has dipped from 94.8 mph in 2011 to 93.8 mph in 2012 to 92.2 mph this season.)
I’m not going out there and trying to blow anybody away. I’m trying to get outs. That’s basically what it boils down to.

Did you talk to Ruben or Charlie about comments?
I don’t think there is anything to really hash out. Facts are facts and when you look in the mirror at the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself.

If There’s A Bottom, This Has To Be It

Jake DiekmanThe Phillies didn’t need to say much in the visitors clubhouse following today’s 12-4 loss to the Tigers.

A few just offered a look.

It’s that look when the eyes open wide for a split second like, “Wow, can you believe that just happened?”

It did. The Phillies went 1-8 on the road against the Mets, Cardinals and Tigers. Their eight-game losing streak is their longest since an eight-game skid in Sept. 2011. It is their worst road trip of nine or more games since July 28-Aug. 6, 1995, when they went 1-8 against the Cubs, Braves and Reds.

“I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t seen that,” said Jimmy Rollins, who has been with the team since 2000. “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”

Rollins also offered his reasons for optimism. Read the above link for that. But Jonathan Papelbon isn’t nearly as cheery. He spoke a couple times yesterday, expressing his frustrations about the losing and the organization. He said if things don’t improve changes need to be made from top to bottom. I asked if Papelbon wants to be traded. He said no, he wants to remain in Philadelphia. But then he said if things continue this way, he doesn’t want to stick around. He said who would? You wonder what is going to happen there. I think both parties would welcome a trade, but it’s easier said than done. There doesn’t appear to be much of a market for Papelbon, and that could become a problem if the team keeps losing.

Michael Young said he hasn’t heard anything yet about a potential trade. And even though Rollins hasn’t been rumored to be traded, he said he would reject any proposals for now.

It was an interesting trip at the very least. It is hard to imagine the Phillies buying in any true capacity before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline (i.e. giving up a top prospect to fill a void in the bullpen or outfield). It wouldn’t make much sense. But I’m just not sure who they can trade to retool for the future. I’m not sure how much value Young has. It sounds like Chase Utley isn’t going anywhere. And while the Phillies would trade Cliff Lee, I wonder what they can get in return. They already traded him once and didn’t get much back.

Papelbon mentioned the Red Sox from 2011. Theo Epstein and Terry Francona both left the organization following a 7-20 finish. They also ditched players like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Papelbon. The Red Sox struggled last season, but they are now first in the American League East with the second-best record in baseball. Ruben Amaro Jr. has his work cut out for him, but if he can make the right moves the Phillies could bounce back relatively quickly. But that’s easier said than done, and the last couple years nothing has been easy.

Amaro: Better Off Than ’12, We’re Buying Now

Ruben Amaro Jr.,Ruben Amaro Jr. said today if the July 31 Trade Deadline were tomorrow they would be buyers.

But the situation remains fluid.

“No one is running away with it,” Amaro said of the National League East and Wild Card races. “No one is invincible.”

The Phillies last season stood at 37-50 at the All-Star break, 10 games behind the Wild Card leaders and 14 games behind the Nationals in the division. They entered Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals 45-47, 6 ½ games behind the Wild Card leaders and 7 ½ games behind the Braves in the division. The All-Star break begins following Sunday’s game against the White Sox.

“I actually considered us less of a contender last year than we are now,” Amaro said. “Weren’t we 10, 11 games under .500 last year?”

Fourteen at one point, actually.

“I think if we were 14 we’d be doing the same thing we did last year,” he said.

(more…)

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