Friday, August 13, 2010
With all the injuries the Sox have endured this season, and with a Wild Card berth just now in grasp, they need all their star players to perform like star players. Jonathan Papelbon failed to do so last night.
John Lackey had a great start, going 8 innings, allowing 3 earned runs, and keeping his pitch count down. You can understand why Francona pulled him after allowing a homerun in the 9th, but it was still one of Lackey's best outings of the season.
Then Papelbon... well, what else can you say except that he blew it.
This was his 6th blown save of the season. That's matching a career high. It was his 5th loss, a new career high. He's allowed 6 homeruns, a new career high. He's allowed 13 doubles, a new career high. His 3.26 ERA is 1.21 higher than his career ERA, and nearly a run higher than his highest season's ERA.
His WHIP is actually the same as it was last year, at 1.15. But he skated around trouble in '09. In 2010, he's been unable to do that.
Now it's silly to replace Papelbon with Bard at this point. Papelbon is still a very good closer. But he's not great, folks. That yokels who'd started to compare him with Mariano Rivera are strictly morons. And most closers don't maintain that near unhittable quality to them. It's unnatural for any pitcher but guys like Rivera to remain that flawless.
I'd say Papelbon is a low Top 10 closer these days. Not a liability, but it's not a guarantee in the 9th anymore. And when his contract comes up, I won't weep if the Sox replace him with a cheaper Top 10 closer.
The Sox face the Rangers tonight in Arlington. Beckett opposes Tommy Hunter (9-1, 3.01 ERA, yikes).
In other news, Kevin Youkilis was at the pre-season Pats game last night, looking very forlorn.