June 13, 2016
Jayson Werth’s walk-off single on Sunday gave the Washington Nationals a weekend three-game sweep of the Phillies, which helped obscure a recent trend that has delighted a large segment of fans in the Delaware Valley: Since the Phillies traded Jonathan Papelbon to their divisional rivals, they kinda, sorta own him.
Yesterday, it was Maikel Franco who did the honors, depositing a hanging slider into the left field seats to momentarily give the Phils a late lead:
Due to his lightning rod personality, Papelbon’s on-field performance went under the radar in Philly. That, and as the Phillies continued to get worse, the team had absolutely no use for a closer making eight figures. Still, Papelbon’s stats with the Phillies were generally pretty good:
|Year ||ERA ||K/BB ||WHIP |
|2012|| 2.44 ||5.11 ||1.057 |
|2013 ||2.92 ||5.18 ||1.135 |
|2014 ||2.04 ||4.20||0.905 |
|2015 ||1.59 ||5.00 ||0.983 |
Since joining the Nats, Papelbon’s performance on the mound has slightly dipped, at least partially because his old team has experienced a ton of success against him. Take a look at his stats against the Phillies since landing in the nation’s capital:
|IP ||ERA ||K/BB ||WHIP |
|8.2 ||7.27 ||1.75 ||1.846 |
It’s a small sample that very well could normalize as the season progresses, but the Phillies have definitely had some fun at Papelbon’s expense. Besides Franco’s homer, let’s look back at a few other times that Papelbon struggled against his former teammates:
In front of tens of people, Freddy Galvis (who makes another appearance later in the post) went deep off Papelbon to tie the game:
Making things sweeter that night for the Phillies, their former closer wasted no time criticizing his former teammates during his first trip back to CBP. Earlier that day, Papelbon… well he was Papelbon:
"I don't know if I got a bad rap here or whatever, but I can promise you I was, by far, [from being] the bad guy on this team," Papelbon said. "I was one of the few that wanted to actually win, and I was one of the few that competed and posted up every day."
The Phillies won the game, but they felt more like bystanders on this Sunday afternoon late in the season. First, Papelbon tried to fight Bryce Harper, his team’s 22-year-old franchise player:
Then, after somehow being allowed to pitch the ninth inning by former manager Matt Williams, Papelbon came out and poured lit the game on fire from a Nats standpoint:
“I didn’t maybe necessarily do it the right way, and there’s better ways to do it,” Papelbon said. “But it happened. I can’t take anything back. Bryce and I are good, and we will be good. We have a brotherly relationship, everyone in this clubhouse. We’ll be good, and we’ll get better from this. I truly do think that we’ll get better from this. Our relationship will get better from this. Next year when we are in the thick of it and we are grinding together and big games mean something, we’ll pick each other up.”
Entrusted with a 2-1 lead, Papelbon was one out away from shutting the game down Jon Taffer style when the Cardiac Kids struck again:
“All of them suck,” Papelbon said if blowing a game felt worse in Philadelphia, a place he never warmed to despite the team giving him $50 million, the largest contract ever awarded to a relief pitcher in baseball history.
“Your job is to go out there and preserve the win,” Papelbon continued. “When you don’t do your job, you gotta learn how to turn the page and move on and go to Miami and win another series. I’ve blown plenty of these in the past. I know how to handle them. I’ll move on and come ready to work and get another save tomorrow. That’s just pretty much how it works, keep the line moving.”
Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. Papelbon is playing for an excellent team that appears to be headed toward the playoffs, while the Phillies are now five games under .500. But with the team still in rebuilding mode, Phillies fans will have to take owning the unpopular ex-closer as a small consolation.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann