Jonathan Papelbon Utilizing Rediscovered Splitter in Recent Dominant Stretch


Each time Jonathan Papelbon has blown a save this season the reaction among fans has suggested that the world is coming to an end. Each time, his response is a bit more tempered.

Utilizing his closer's mentality, he works at whatever issue might have caused the rough outing and moves on. Since his sixth and most recent blown save in Toronto on Aug. 12, a memorable meltdown that spoiled a John Lackey gem, Papelbon has again shown an ability to bounce back.

And he's doing it in remarkably impressive fashion.

With a save in the opener of Wednesday's doubleheader against Seattle, Papelbon had allowed just one hit and one walk in five scoreless appearances — each lasting an inning — since the Toronto loss. He has three saves, one win and seven strikeouts in that span.

The handful of hiccups that dotted the landscape earlier in the season are beginning to become a distant memory.

"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.

"Now I'm at a point where I know what's working for me and what's not working for me."

In addition to a fastball that is, to put it plainly, faster, part of what is working for him of late is an improved split-fingered fastball. While he throws it about four times less than he does his heater, Papelbon knows that the splitter is the key to his success.

"I definitely have the feel back for my split and I'm able to keep hitters honest with it," he said.

The recent five-game run is impressive, but lost in all the hollering in the wake of his blown save in Toronto was what Papelbon had done before then, allowing one earned run in a span of 17 2/3 innings. Overall, he has a 1.57 ERA in his last 24 games.

The hubbub surrounding the early blown saves seemed a bit premature. Papelbon is reinforcing that notion with rediscovered dominance.

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