Pitching for the third straight day, Jonathan Papelbon turned in a perfect ninth Tuesday against the Twins in Boston’s 4-3 victory, giving him 26 saves in 27 chances.
Papelbon’s ERA remains somewhat inflated at 3.14, but he’s worked scoreless innings in 12 straight appearances. During that span, he’s allowed just two hits and posted a 12/0 K/BB ratio.
Papelbon hasn’t walked a batter since July 10, and he has a 64/8 K/BB ratio for the year. If he can keep that up, he’d again join the select list of pitchers to save 30 games and strike out at least eight batters for each one he walked. Here’s they are:
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1989): 33 Sv, 55/3 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1990): 48 Sv, 73/4 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1991): 43 Sv, 87/9 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (A’s, 1992): 51 Sv, 93/11 K/BB
Dennis Eckersley (Cards, 1996): 30 Sv, 49/6 K/BB
Doug Jones (Brewers, 1997): 36 Sv, 82/9 K/BB
John Smoltz (Braves, 2003): 45 Sv, 73/8 K/BB
Mariano Rivera (Yankees, 2008): 39 Sv, 77/6 K/BB
Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox, 2008): 41 Sv, 77/8 K/BB
Papelbon certainly seems to be in the process of reestablishing himself at the head of the class of this winter’s free agent relievers. Jonathan Broxton seemed like the cream of the crop a year and a half ago and Heath Bell reigned supreme at the beginning of this year, but Papelbon is throwing the best now from the group that also includes Francisco Rodriguez, Ryan Madson and Jose Valverde.
On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”
Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:
To that, Archer said:
For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.
The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.
Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:
“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”
Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.
That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.