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The Sports Daily > Firebrand AL
The Forgotten Man: Jonathan Papelbon

Is it just me, or has one of the Red Sox most potent weapons been noticeably forgotten in the remarkable 21-9 run this team has been on since August 1st? For someone who plays such an important role on this team, Jonathan Papelbon hasn’t been at the forefront of this team’s recent success, for no other reason than he hasn’t had to be.
Despite having as good an August as any month this season, not having allowed an earned run over twelve and two thirds innings, only four of Papelbon’s eleven appearances (36%) resulted in saves. In comparison over his career as a reliever, including his brief time setting up for Keith Foulke, Papelbon has earned a save in 57% of his appearances.
As much as, if not more than, any other player on the team Papelbon’s impact on the team is determined by the rest of his teammates. And in August, his teammates made his role as easy as it has been throughout most of his career in Boston.
Buoyed by a lineup that experienced its best month of the season hitting .299 while scoring 6.3 runs per game, only seven games ended within a two run spread in August.
As the Red Sox look forward to September and specifically the upcoming sprint against the Rays, a fresh Papelbon will be one of the Red Sox biggest weapons.
But to play devil’s advocate for a second, could Papelbon’s “mental break” actually be a little detrimental to his performance in key situations during the stretch run? The closers’ mentality has proven time and time again to be a different beast.
How does the adrenaline junkie that lives off the high of being in the ultimate situation at the most critical times react to having the doses of that “drug” dialed down over an extended period of time?
I tend to fall on the side that given Papelbon’s consistent domination in nearly any context over the past three seasons, that the rest will do nothing but keep him sharp as the season grinds on and ratchets up in pressure situations. His performance thus far has given me no pause to doubt that.
Do you have any concern that the team’s recent success may give Paps a little rust down the stretch?

Comments

  1. With the starting team returning from the DL, and a backup team of now seasoned 'rookies' able to stay in the game, and with every game a money game, September could look a lot like August. Or not. Either way, Paps will shake off rust with games on the line. Go Paps.

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  2. No concern here. We saw last year that Paps is even more effective when he gets some rest and we've seen a few times that a few days off between appearances means a livelier fastball. Paps is one of the few guys on this team, along with Ortiz and Dustin, that I trust to get the job done every time out.

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  3. Due to normal slumps experienced by everyone, including Paps, Papi and Dustin, I trust in the ability of this team to perform, as a team, to the unique strengths of its members; and to leave it all on the field.
    We lead the league in many offensive categories, so I also trust Youk, Lowrie, Lowell, Bay, JD, Kotsay, Casey, Bailey, Van Every to hit well, consistently.
    I trust the defensive skills of every starting player, and much of its bench. I trust Ells and Youk to make astounding plays in different positions. Remove 10 of Julio's E's from the stats and we are the leaders here.
    I trust the ability of this team to run bases aggressively, consistently from Ells and Coco to Youk and Bay, which puts us on that leaderboard also.
    I trust our bench players: Casey, Bailey, Kotsay, Coco, Cora, Cash, Van Every to use their unique skills to routinely help win games.
    Finally, our pitching has been marred more by injuries and lapses in run support than lack of talent and substance. I trust Lester, Wake, Becket, Daisuke, Byrd, Colon, Masterson, Bowden, Oki, MDC, Aardsma, Smith to, when healthy, pitch above the norm, keep us in the game, which is all that can be asked. And because they do, we are also on the pitching leaderboards.
    In summary. I trust this team to win +/-95 games despite long-term injuries and illnesses to almost every starting player, the road trip from hell, the rise of the Rays, and the loss of Manny and Schill. In the Red Sox I trust.

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  4. Too homer, patriotic? Sorry. Been watching alot of convention stuff. But if A's fans can say in Billy we trust, certainly we can say that about this amazing team. Also sorry I omitted Lopez above. What a great contribution he has made, consistently.

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  5. I haven't seen him pitch much but what stands out for me is that he gave up the GW hit to Giambi in last Yankees series. I was really hoping for a sweep and a dagger to the heart. He seems like he throws FB, FB, FB, and more FB's. Does he have another SO pitch besides the FB? He seems dominating most of the times but every now and then someone gets good wood on the ball and makes him look average. Does Paps have a nasty slider?

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  6. Traditionally it's been the splitter. But I have noticed, especially early in the season, that he went away from it a little more often than he used to. At the same time, he's been throwing a slider more and more effectively.
    I really think he lost the split a little this year and that has made him try and blow the FB by people as the put away pitch.

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