For Jonathan Papelbon, no place is off limits when it comes to seeking pitching advice. Not even the shower.
Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth inning on Thursday to pick up his first save with the Nationals since being traded to Washington from Philadelphia. He apparently liked what he saw from Drew Storen, the Nationals’ previous closer, who pitched a scoreless eighth for the hold.
According to MASN’s Chris Johnson, Papelbon said after the game that he asked Storen in the shower to teach him his slider grip.
Jonathan Papelbon: "I was in the shower with Storen, I said ‘can you show me that slider grip tomorrow?’ He was really, really good."
— Chris Johnson (@masnCJ) July 30, 2015
I’d hate to tell Papelbon what I do in the shower, but I can assure you, it’s not asking for pitching tips. Then again, we’ve seen Papelbon get quite intimate with teammates before, so this might not come as a big surprise.
As for the slider, it’s one of Storen’s money pitches. His average fastball velocity has dropped the past two seasons, so he’s increased the amount he throws his changeup and slider. He now throws his slider 35 percent of the time according to Fangraphs.
Photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
- Jonathan Papelbon
The Washington Nationals bolstered their bullpen on Tuesday when they acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies. But it could take a while before one of Papelbon’s new teammates offers to buy him dinner.
Drew Storen has been closing games for the Nationals all season, and he has been very effective in that role. The 27-year-old is tied for third in the majors with 29 saves and boasts a 1.73 ERA. So why are the Nats giving Papelbon his job?
“Papelbon is our ninth-inning pitcher,” Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said Tuesday, per MASN’s Chris Johnson. “Drew will pitch the ninth inning at times when Papelbon’s not available and be our set-up guy in the eighth inning as we constructed today.”
As you might expect, Storen does not seem pleased.
“Really, all I’m gonna say is that obviously I’m aware of the move,” he told reporters. “I’ve talked to (Rizzo) about it. I’ve talked to my agent. We’ve had some ongoing discussions. Until those have progressed, I’m just gonna leave it at that and no comment for now. But as the situation goes, I’ll keep you guys posted.”
Papelbon has pitched well this season, too. He has converted all 17 of his save opportunities (the Phillies aren’t good) and has a 1.59 ERA. He also has more big-game experience than Storen, who has blown just two saves.
Papelbon has been a full-time closer for the past 10 seasons. Perhaps the Nationals feel that Storen is better equipped to change roles, especially given Papelbon’s reputation for flying off the handle.
In any event, the Nationals are on track to make the playoffs. Assuming they can make everyone happy down the stretch, the team will have one of the deepest bullpens in baseball.
The Philadelphia Phillies are not going to make Jonathan Papelbon suffer any longer.
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the Phillies are going to trade Papelbon. However, it is unclear if the team will find a suitor for him before the trade deadline on Friday at 4 p.m. or if the veteran reliever will be moved after the non-waiver deadline.
As Salisbury notes, Papelbon has a $13 million contract option for next season that has already vested, so he would likely clear waivers if he was traded after Friday.
There is still a strong possibility that Papelbon will be traded within the next 72 hours. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Washington Nationals are “making progress” on a potential deal for Papelbon, but the 34-year-old is only going to approve a deal if he is guaranteed that he will be a closer. It’s unclear if the Nationals are willing to make that promise, as their current closer Drew Storen is tied for third in the majors with 29 saves and boasts a 1.73 ERA. Papelbon has also pitched well (1.59 ERA, 17 saves, no blown saves), but Washington shouldn’t feel the need to make a change.
If it comes down to Papelbon having to accept a setup role or remain in Philly, we doubt he’s going to block a trade. He has been very open about wanting to be traded, and you know what they say about beggars.
Jonathan Papelbon has seemingly wanted out of Philadelphia since the day he signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the team after the 2011 season. While speaking at the site of the MLB All-Star Game on Monday, the 34-year-old reiterated that he wants to be traded.
When Papelbon was asked about wanting to play for another team, he indicated that he is tired of rumors swirling with nothing happening. Only, he didn’t exactly use those words.
Papelbon at All Star press conference says it's time for Phillies "to (blank) or get off the pot." Re: trade
— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) July 13, 2015
Papelbon openly admitted last week that he wanted to be dealt to a winning team.
“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he asked reporters, per Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. “That’s mind-boggling to me. I think that’s a no-brainer (to want to leave and go to a contender).”
The Phillies know Papelbon wants to be traded, so he doesn’t need to keep trying to embarrass them publicly. They have probably tried to find a suitor for the closer on numerous occasions, but there aren’t many teams that want to pay a 34-year-old reliever $13 million per season — especially one who is going to create headlines the second something goes wrong.
Papelbon is still pitching at a high level (1.60 ERA, 14 saves, no blown saves), but teams were probably turned off by his crotch grab antics late last season. It’s also not a good look that he bashes the Phillies every chance he gets. He’d have a better chance of being traded if he kept quiet.
Before he made his first appearance of the 2015 season, Jonathan Papelbon managed to figure out a way to get Philadelphia fans to turn on him. How? By saying he has never felt like a Phillie.
“The Red Sox are a part of who I am, man,” Papelbon told Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe before Wednesday’s game. “I don’t really feel much like a Phillie. Boston’s where I was born and raised. It’s kind of like that, you know? It’s the city you were born and raised in.
“It’s been a tough transition over here. … I don’t know if I can honestly tell you I’m even used to it yet.”
Papelbon should be comfortable by now. He’s in the fourth and final year of a four-year, $50 million contract he signed with the Phillies back in 2011. But after he got his team out of serious trouble with a four-out save on Wednesday, Papelbon reiterated his unpopular stance.
“I’ve never been embraced here, from day one,” he said, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. ““It’s not antagonizing. It’s speaking the truth. When I get asked that question, I give you the truth.
“I don’t say anything to piss anybody off, piss the fans off, by any means. I’m honest, you know? I’m a Phillie right now. I play for the Phillies, but there’s a big part of my heart that lies with the Red Sox, you know what I mean?”
The Phillies needed Pap in a big way in their second game of the season. A costly error and some wild pitching from Ken Giles quickly cut Philly’s 4-0 lead in half and left the bases loaded with two out in the eighth. Papelbon came on and induced a fly ball from Hanley Ramirez — albeit one that nearly left the yard — to get out of the jam.
Papelbon, 34, finished the 2014 season with 39 saves and a 2.04 ERA, so we know he can still be effective. He has said in the past that he can see himself returning to the Red Sox, who currently have a 40-year-old closer on the DL with a hamstring injury.
Perhaps Papelbon’s crotch grab antics from last year were an indication of the way he feels about his current situation. He could very well be traded this season, and we wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up back in Boston.
- Jonathan Papelbon
The Milwaukee Brewers are reportedly interested in working out a trade for Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.
According to Yahoo Sports, the Phillies have engaged the Brewers in trade talks as they continue to look for ways to blow up their roster and trim payroll. Papelbon has a no-trade clause in his contract that can block moves to 17 teams, and it is unclear if Milwaukee is one of those teams.
Papelbon is set to make $13 million in 2015 with a $13 million vesting option for 2016 if he appears in 48 games next season. He finished with 39 saves and a 2.04 ERA last season. The Brewers recently traded Yovani Gallardo and his $13 million salary to the Texas Rangers, so they have the space needed to take on Papelbon.
Overall, Papelbon has not seemed happy in Philadelphia. The team was displeased with him last year after he was suspended for making this obscene gesture toward the fans. A divorce would probably be best for all parties.
Robertson turned down a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer from the Yankees earlier in the week, meaning the Yankees will receive a draft pick as compensation if the closer signs with another team. The $15.3 million for one season would have set a record for a reliever, but it sounds like Robertson has his eyes set on something even greater.
ESPN New York reports that Robertson is seeking “Papelbon money,” which is a reference to Jonathan Papelbon, who signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Phillies in 2011. That deal can become five years for $63 million if Papelbon’s option for 2016 vests, which it likely will next year.
Robertson, 29, has been with the Yankees his entire seven-year career. He posted 4-5 record with 39 saves and a 3.08 ERA last season. His 13.45 strikeouts per nine innings rate was extremely strong, which is a sign to the Yankees that he has the kind of stuff to consistently make hitters miss. That stat is generally a strong predictor of future success for a reliever.
Despite Robertson being an effective reliever throughout his Yankees career, the team is said to be reluctant to pay Papelbon-type money to him and would not match if he received such an offer.