5-20-2010: Is Papelbon a concern?

I have been a staunch defender of Jonathan Papelbon here on this blog, even through the shaky times last season. He has simply gotten the job done, but his blown save against the Yankees a couple of games ago gave me some pause. Sure, it was his first blown save in 22 chances, dating back to last season, but what a blow it was. Papelbon allowed two home runs in the same game for the first time in his career, but what concerned me more was the two first-pitch meatballs he threw up there to Alex Rodriguez and then strikeout machine Marcus Thames.

Since Papelbon likes to compare him self to Mariano Rivera, let’s ask the question: how many times has Rivera allowed two HRs in the same game (as a closer)? The answer is twice – once on July 18th, 1998 against the Jays (a non-save situation) and once on May 7, 2009 against the Rays (allowed two runs to break a tie and assigned the loss). Rivera had pitched 13 years as a closer before suffering that kind of an outing as a closer in a high-leverage situation. Blown saves with 2 HRs allowed is not uncommon though – it’s happened 8 other times this year alone (twice to Trevor Hoffman). But let’s take a closer look.

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2010 AL East Preview: Sox, Yankees reloaded

As Spring Training finally dawns, we are looking at two teams at the top of the division with significant turnover from this offseason. The Yankees have shed several older, oft-injured players and added a powerful left-handed bat in OF Curtis Granderson. For their part, Boston has decided to focus on run prevention with the signing of John Lackey and even sacrificed OBP in order to improve their team defense in this “bridge year”. The Tampa Rays have another year of development and polish on their young and talented core. Meanwhile, Toronto has gone into rebuilding mode with the trade of Roy Halladay to the Phillies, and the Orioles’ youth movement is on the cusp of paying dividends. What can we expect to see in 2010? Read more of this post