Jonathan Papelbon is gonna get a nice big fine.
Last night, he thought he had Dee Gordon struck out looking. Home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, however, thought differently. After the inning was over — and after Gordon had come around to score the winning run — Papelbon sought out Reyburn and jawed at him. But that was nothing compared to the jawing he did in the clubhouse after the game.
Upon being informed that Reyburn was a Triple-A callup ump, Papelbon said:
“Doesn’t surprise me. He probably needs to go back to Triple A … You’re up in the big leagues to do a good job and when you don’t do a good job you should be demoted or fired. It’s just like anybody’s job. If I don’t do my job, I go down to Triple A. There’s no room for that up here. It’s not a knock on the umpires. It’s the integrity of the game. You want to be able to go out there and play the game the way it should be played. All night long, from [Dodgers starter Clayton] Kershaw to [Phillies starter] Vance [Worley], all the way to the ninth inning, it affected the outcome of the game.
“I thought he was terrible – all day. It wasn’t just that pitch. All I wanted to know was if he could throw me out for what I was thinking, and if he could, I thought he sucked. It’s that simple.”
OK, that’s what he thinks. But looking at the pitches to Gordon, I’m not thinking he has a good case. The fourth pitch was called a ball and Papelbon thought it was a strike. It’s right on the edge. It was close, and maybe missed, but certainly not egregious and certainly not the kind of call that someone typically makes a federal case out of.
But Joe Torre’s gonna. And Papelbon’s wallet is gonna be a bit lighter for it. Hope his rant made him feel better.
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.