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.
Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner sustained a displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand on Friday. He’ll undergo surgery on Saturday to insert pins in his pinky knuckle, a procedure that could require a four- to six-week recovery period before he’s cleared to throw again. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, Bumgarner’s total recovery time is expected to take 6-8 weeks. In a best-case scenario, the lefty said he should be able to pitch again before the All-Star break, but given the amount of time and care it’ll take for him to shoulder a full workload, it’s unclear whether he’ll be able to do so.
Bumgarner suffered the fracture during the third inning of Friday’s Cactus League game against the Royals. Whit Merrifield returned a line drive up the middle and the ball deflected off the top of Bumgarner’s pitching hand before bouncing into the infield. He chased after the ball but was unable to pick it up, and was immediately visited by manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer before exiting the game.
The 28-year-old southpaw was gearing up for a massive comeback after losing significant playing time with an injury in 2017. During his tumultuous run with the Giants last year, he missed nearly three months on the disabled list after spraining his shoulder and bruising his ribs in a dirt bike accident. He finished the season with a 4-9 record in 17 starts and a 3.32 ERA (his first 3.00+ ERA since 2012), 1.6 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 111 innings. Without him, the Giants suffered as well; by season’s end, their pitching staff ranked seventh-worst in the National League with a cumulative 4.58 ERA and 10.1 fWAR.
This is the second massive injury the Giants’ rotation has sustained this week after right-hander Jeff Samardzija was diagnosed with a strained pectoral muscle on Thursday. “Horrible news for us,” Bochy told reporters after Friday’s game. “That’s all you can say about it. There’s nothing you can do but push on.”