Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon locked down his fourth save of the season in impressive fashion this afternoon against the Braves, retiring the side in order while recording a pair of swinging strikeouts. He now has five straight scoreless appearances since his disastrous blown save against the Rangers on April 2.
Papelbon was asked about his velocity after the game, which Brooks Baseball notes topped out at 93.7 mph today, a marked improvement from his early appearances this season. As you’ll see in the video below from CSNPhilly.com, he’s pretty tired of talking about it.
Velocity obviously isn’t everything, as location, movement, and mixing your pitches all matter, but you’d certainly take higher velocity over lower velocity. Among other things, it correlates to higher strikeout rates, which means fewer balls put into play. This minimizes the chance of something going wrong.
This is relevant with with a fastball-dependent reliever like Papelbon, as HardballTalk’s own Bill Baer passed along this useful little tidbit earlier this evening:
While Papelbon is tired of hearing about his velocity, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg spoke about it after the game and told Paul Hagen of MLB.com that he’s encouraged with what he has seen recently:
“He seems to be picking it up a little bit and throwing his fastball. Sat around 93. He’s getting into a groove. His velocity is going upwards so that’s all good.”
Upwards velocity for Papelbon is a good thing? Interesting theory.
Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reports that the Orioles and Diamondbacks have agreed in principle to a trade involving outfielder Michael Bourn. The trade is in the process of being finalized. It is not yet known what the Diamondbacks are receiving in return.
Bourn will be the second outfielder the Orioles have acquired on Wednesday, as the club also claimed Drew Stubbs off waivers from the Rangers.
With rosters expanding on Thursday, the Orioles are making a concerted effort to bolster the team’s outfield depth. Both Stubbs and Bourn are eligible for the Orioles’ postseason roster if the club makes it.
Bourn, 33, hit .261/.307/.362 with 21 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, 43 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 358 plate appearances.
The Orioles have claimed outfielder Drew Stubbs off release waivers from the Rangers, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The club designated for assignment pitcher Kyle Lobstein, whom they acquired from the Pirates earlier on Wednesday, to make roster space for Stubbs, Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com reports.
The Rangers designated Stubbs for assignment last week. After clearing waivers, Stubbs refused an assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, so the Rangers released him on Monday.
Stubbs, 31, has taken only 67 plate appearances this season — 42 with the Braves, 25 with the Rangers — as he missed a lot of time between mid-May and mid-August with a sprained left toe.
With rosters expanding, the veteran Stubbs will simply add to the Orioles’ outfield depth.