He is dominate. He is scary. He throws a wicked fastball. He's one big man. He's been nearly un-hittable as of late. Who am I talking about?
He is dominate. He is scary. He throws a wicked fastball. He's one big man. He's been nearly un-hittable as of late. He is a rookie. Who am I talking about?
Am I the only one that thinks Papelbon can be compared to the rookie of Clemens in 1986 when the Boston Red Sox went to the World Series against the New York Mets? Obviously there are some big differences, but for the most part, we're looking at the closest thing to Clemens that we may ever see.
Papelbon has been great this season for the Red Sox since making his professional debut on July 31 against the Minnesota Twins. I still remember that start. He looked really good, but he wasn't adjusted to MLB hitting just yet. Through all three of his starts, it didn't look like he quite got it. He was amazing, don't get me wrong, but he wasn't at his full potential.
And, at this moment, I believe he's met that `full potential' for a rookie, so to say. He's related to MLB hitters and he knows how to get them out every time now. He has allowed only two runs in his last ten appearances, spanning 14.1 innings. He has modeled into Mike Timlin's primary set-up man, earning four holds in the process and, more importantly, the trust of Terry Francona and crew to put him into crucial game situations.
He's pitching well, so why don't we use him where we really need him? That would be the starting rotation. Our starters, other than Tim Wakefield, just aren't getting the job done. Matt Clement has three wins and a 5.72 ERA after the All-Star break. Bronson Arroyo has a 5.13 ERA after the break and opponents are hitting him at a .280 clip. Curt Schilling just hasn't been consistent enough yet. Tim Wakefield and David Wells have been our best starters, but at their age can't carry us through the playoffs. I think the answer is clear who we need.
If we move Papelbon to the rotation, there is an easy answer to the setup role, where he has been over the past few weeks or so. The answer, of course, is Mike Myers and Chad Bradford.
They are an ideal set-up duo. Myers may not be able to pitch to right-handed batters, but Bradford has produced good results when pitching to more than a batter or two. Combining them for an inning, maybe more, would produce the same results that Timlin and Papelbon have been doing all season long. Bradford and Myers are essentially one very good bullpen pitcher. Why not use them like it?
I can visualize Jonathan Papelbon coming out from the bullpen to start a crucial playoff game as a rookie and taking the Red Sox to victory.