The Red Sox' dynamic closer has done his homework. He's recognized the pitches that have gotten him into trouble in early August. He realizes what led to the blown saves, and he's been incredible for the Red Sox this week.
In his four outings this week, Jonathan Papelbon has tallied three saves and one win. He's brought his ERA down a significant amount over the past three weeks, where he recorded his last blown save on Aug. 12 against the Toronto Blue Jays, to a 2.91 mark, and those numbers have earned him the Amica Pitcher of the Week honors.
Zero runs have crossed the plate in Pap's four appearances for the Red Sox this week, allowing just one hit while striking out six. His 33 saves rank him third in the AL and sixth in the MLB as a whole, and his performance under pressure against the Rays on Friday proved that he's regained his poise on the mound.
Papelbon credits his splitter as one of the primary reasons behind his success this week. The 29-year-old spoke with reporters earlier in the week about how he has rediscovered the pitch and it's helped his dominance from the mound.
"I definitely have the feel back for my split and I'm able to keep hitters honest with it," he said after he picked up his 32nd save against Seattle on Wednesday.
The closer has allowed just three walks over six scoreless outings, which have all been one-inning appearances. It seems Papelbon has found his groove on the mound again, and he's looking to keep it that way now that the Red Sox are heading down the stretch.
"Basically my delivery is intact and I'm able to throw the ball out in front of my face, out in front of my body," Papelbon said. "My velocity has been up the second half of the season. For me all I really want to do is go out there and repeat my delivery night in and night out."