No previews for the bullpen. Hey, I was new at this, cut me a break.
2.94 ERA, 1.53 FIP, 31 Saves, 63 G, 87 K
Jonathan Papelbon had been the object of some scrutiny coming into the year, and with his contract in its final year, Red Sox fans were looking for him to improve before considering bringing him back. Well, Papelbon responded to the scrutiny, and did so in a big way. In fact, looking at his numbers, I would think about saying it was his best season yet, including his great 2007. Papelbon's 12.17 K/9 is his highest since that 2007 season (12.96 that year), but his K/BB 8.70 was much better than the 5.60 he compiled that year. Paps also did a better job of keeping the ball in the park, allowing 0.42 HR/9 and as well as putting up a 4.8% HR/FB, both of which best his career marks (0.65, 6.6%, respectively). Papelbon's worst month of the season was June, which is also when he got the least amount of work. In just 8 innings of work, he allowed 7 runs (6 earned) and had a season-worst 10/3 K/BB ratio. His best month was definitively August. In the dominating month, Papelbon pitched 11 shutout innings in which he struck out twelve batters without allowing a single walk. What made Papelbon a good closer this year was how he was in high leverage situations. In the most pressure-filled situations, he posted a 0.59 FIP, struck out 13.50 batters per nine, and didn't allow a home run. All of these numbers are very similar to his 2007 stats, but one important stat line separates them, the dreaded BABIP. Papelbon put together this stat line all while allowing a BABIP of .309, which is pretty great considering his career mark of .275 and the .216 he allowed in that 2007 year. The only thing missing from this year's line is a championship, but we all know that story by now.
As I said before, Papelbon had, in my opinion, his best year ever. He anchored the back of the bullpen at a higher level than I, or many others, would have ever imagined coming into the year. The fact that he was on a contract year probably helped, but I still have to give him an A for the season. Also, if they can get him back on a two, maybe three, year deal, I definitely do it.