Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's Up With Paps?

Glad we won yesterday.  Even gladder that Jeff Bailey hit that home run in the eighth to make the ultimate difference in the score, because someone in the AL East has got to keep those steam-rolling Yankees from taking first place.  The Papelbon thing?  Not so good.  

The papers of record have no speculation on what's going on with our god-like closer (although the Globe is happy to let the fans offer their thoughts), or why the guy whose WHIP hasn't gone above 1.00 since he took over the role is now flirting with a 1.40 over 21 innings and giving up home runs like he's preparing for Lent.  When we were watching the game on Saturday, Don suggested that Papelbon is pulling a Beckett and relying too much on his fastball to blow opponents away.  The numbers Papelbon has put up so far support the idea: a larger number of hits per nine, home runs per nine, and walks per nine; a low strikeout to walk ratio whose depths he hasn't plumbed since his starting days in 2005; a strikeout per nine ratio that's a touch higher than his overall total last year; these all look like the calling cards of a pitcher who's living and dying by throwing smoke, no matter how inaccurate.  

Assuming I'm correct, we're far luckier than we would be should the alternative - an injured Papelbon, slowly pitching his way on to the DL and rendering himself inactive when we need him most - be true: the guy's got three (or four) pitches; he just needs to use the offspeed stuff more to make the heat look hotter and maybe stop trying to place his pitches so much.  Of course, that kind of switch goes against the canon of dominant closers, who supposedly need no more than two pitches to wreck the competition, but I think we can all agree that having a pitcher who can the shut door without inducing heart attacks is worth breaking some traditions.