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Sunday June 27, 2010 4:16 am

Is Papelbon the current Rivera?




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Jonathan PapelbonIt was a busy week and change for Jonathan Papelbon. On the 19th, he helped his team defeat the Dodgers and got a win. The following day was a similar Red Sox victory, this time getting a save for his efforts. On the 23rd, the Rockies made quick work of Papelbon, giving him his first blown save of the season as well as a loss. The next night looked similar as Papelbon blew another save, but his team bounced back and he got his second win of the week. On Saturday, Papelbon returned to normal recording his 17th save of the season in an eight-pitcher effort to defeat the Giants.

Due to their teams’ competitive nature and recently escalated rivalry, Papelbon is often compared to the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera. However, the two are arguably polar opposites. Rivera relies on his low-90s cutter to get almost everybody out with it. Papelbon shows a little more variety with a straight fastball that averages in the mid-90s, while mixing in a splitter or a slider to keep hitters off balance. He’s also 11 years younger than Rivera, and is only getting better while Rivera has already peaked.

Since 2006, Papelbon actually has more saves recorded than Rivera. In fact, Papelbon has recorded more saves than anybody. He has 168 saves total; two ahead of Francisco Rodriguez and four up on Rivera. Interestingly, Joe Nathan of the Twins, who hasn’t and won’t throw a pitch in 2010 due to Tommy John surgery, has 159. You have to assume that if he were healthy, he’d be ahead of Papelbon at this point. But he’s not.

Papelbon has a career 17-15 record and 2.04 ERA. In 330.2 innings, he has 373 strikeouts to just 89 walks. He has a WHIP of exactly 1.00; opponents are hitting exactly .200; and his next appearance will be the 300th of his career. Rivera is likely going to the Hall of Fame someday known as the best closer in the history of baseball, but wouldn’t it be something if Papelbon could overtake Rivera’s legacy as soon as he’s gone? If he continues at the pace he’s on, he just may do it.

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