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Jonathan Papelbon thinks the Phillies will have a top-five bullpen

Mar 8, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

Jonathan Papelbon

The Phillies had the fourth-highest bullpen ERA in baseball last season at 4.19, according to FanGraphs. Don’t tell that to closer Jonathan Papelbon, who thinks the Phillies will have a top-five bullpen in 2014.

Via CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury:

“I will be very, very surprised if this is not a much better bullpen this year,” he said one recent day at Phillies camp.

Papelbon went a step further.

“I will be surprised if we’re not a top five bullpen in all of baseball. There’s way too much talent here. All we were waiting on was the experience and now these guys have it.”

Salisbury added that Papelbon is particularly encouraged by the development of lefty Jake Diekman and right-handers B.J. Rosenberg and Justin De Fratus. Rosenberg, who learned a splitter from Papelbon, has potential but walked 10.5 percent of batters last season. De Fratus walked 12 percent.

Diekman was the most impressive of the bunch last season, posting an overall 2.58 ERA. He really turned it on after July, posting a 1.64 ERA with 26 strikeouts and nine unintentional walks in 22 innings between the start of August and the end of the regular season.

Papelbon will play an important role in the success or failure of the Phillies’ bullpen. His results weren’t bad, but his strikeout rate declined from 34 and 32 percent in the previous two seasons to 22 percent, almost certainly a result of his average fastball velocity dropping from 95 MPH to 92 MPH. The right-hander, though, recently revealed that he battled a hip injury last season. If that was the cause, as opposed to the fact that he is in his mid-30’s, then his optimism may not be misplaced.

Expecting the Phillies’ bullpen to rank in the top-five in baseball may be a bit too strong, but top-ten wouldn’t be crazy. There is quite a lot of potential there.

  1. Kevin S. - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    I would be surpised if I don’t throw a seven the first time I step up at the craps table. Same odds as Philly’s pen has at being top five, really.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:06 PM

    When faced with particularly difficult questions in life, I frequently find myself asking, “What would Jonathan Papelbon think about this?” He is an intellectual guiding light for us all in these dark times.

    • spudchukar - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:25 AM

      The work “think” and Papelbon should never be used in the same sentence.

  3. raysfan1 - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    I guarantee they’ll be top 5 in the NL East.

    • mmeyer3387 - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      I like your odds my friend. You must really know a good bet when you see one. My hats off to you and our good friend Papelbon.

  4. chill1184 - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Always nice to have optimism. On a related note can I play poker with Papelbon?

  5. vincentbojackson - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    If they’re not top 5 I’m sure Papelbon will promptly throw his teammates under the bus like he did last year.

  6. tfbuckfutter - Mar 8, 2014 at 8:58 PM

    I would like to know more things Jon Papelbon thinks.

    Especially in the field of science. I bet it is absolutely fascinating.

  7. bostonboresme - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:19 PM

    He also thinks they’re winning the World Series. Woopdeedoo.

  8. schmedley69 - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:48 PM

    Top 5 might be pushing it, but the Phillies bullpen has potential and could be a lot better than it has been the past few years.

  9. sportsfan18 - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    When forced to clarify his comments… Pap conceded he meant a top 5 bullpen in the N.L. East…

  10. greymares - Mar 9, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    I’m a Philly fa that does not like Jonathon Papelbon. I wish he were no longer on the team. And in no way do i ever need to hear his opinion on anything. It’s time to give this closer job to Jake Diekman and let him prove his worth.

    • jimeejohnson - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:09 AM

      You’re a smart man. Cheesesteak!

  11. ez4u2sa - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    The problem with this piece is the first three words of the title ‘Jonathan Papelbon Thinks’.

  12. gloccamorra - Mar 9, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Aw, he’s just feeding the sportswriters and keeping the Phillies in the news. That’s what the guys with overpriced contracts are supposed to do in Spring Training. Actually earning his contract during the season is a little tougher, but in Boston he did both, mostly because the Red Sox wouldn’t pay him so much.

  13. recoveringcubsfan - Mar 9, 2014 at 6:01 PM

    So we have a choice: Papelbon was kind of bad last year but it was either because of a hip injury or because he is getting old? Can’t it be both? Hip injuries are the kind of thing that happen to old people, right? Just because he says he’s over that doesn’t mean he isn’t about to get hurt somewhere else. Given his age, it seem pretty likely.

    I love his optimism, though. It’s endearing. Dead wrong. But endearing.

  14. dakotaandotter - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    the Phillies pen has the potential to be anywhere from #3-32. I’m a season ticket holder and Rosenberg, Deikman and DeFratus have tremendous arms. Rosenberg and Deikman never showed a thing until the final months of last season where they were electric. So considering pens can have big fluctuations from year to year – as seen in Washington last year – I’d say if those three have breakout seasons, if Adams comes back strong from health issues, if Papelbon’s velocity returns and if Bastardo has a good season they’ll be great. But that’s a lot of ifs to be near the top.

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