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.