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.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals have signed free agent reliever Neftali Feliz, pending a physical. The Brewers designated Feliz for assignment last week and released him on Monday.
Feliz, 29, opened the season as the Brewers’ closer, but struggled and was eventually taken out of the role in mid-May, giving way to Corey Knebel. In 29 appearances spanning 27 innings with the Brewers, Feliz posted a 6.00 ERA with a 21/15 K/BB ratio.
The Royals have had bullpen issues of their own, so Feliz will try to provide some stability given his track record. It’s not clear yet if the Royals want to let Feliz get his feet wet at Triple-A or throw him right into the bullpen mix.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).