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.
The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.
Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.
Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.
This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.