For much of the year, Jonathan Papelbon has been practicing a “bend but don’t break” approach. That is, until Saturday’s meltdown against Oakland.
Paps blew his first save of the year, giving up a four-run lead in the ninth and getting ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Despite receiving his first official blemish, Papelbon has not rebounded from an unspectacular 2010 campaign.
Saturday’s episode marked the fourth time in the last six appearances Papelbon has allowed a run, and his ERA now sits at 4.32, the highest of his career. The most troubling statistic for the Boston closer though is that he has allowed more hits than innings pitched this year.
It will admittedly take several more implosions before Terry Francona motions for someone other than Papelbon to preserve ninth inning leads. We may, however, be seeing the first chinks in the 30-year-old’s armor, and Boston has a capable replacement in flame-thrower Daniel Bard waiting in the wings.