In today's 4-2 win over Cincinnati, the ninth inning chance was given to Phillippe Aumont, not Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon. Friday in Atlanta Papelbon earned his career 250th save the day after he earned his 249th save. One day off and Papelbon was back, blowing the save in Sunday's tough loss to the Atlanta Braves. The workload given to Papelbon, not the blown save, was the reason that Papelbon had the night off, reports Cincinnati journalist Jeff Walner.
Papelbon has been the target of much criticism after the blown save, but the numbers say that Papelbon has done his job capably this season. Four blown saves is not terrible. Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera has had fewer than four just three times in his Hall of Fame career since becoming the Yankees closer full-time, and has a career save percentage of 89%. In 2012 Papelbon has a save percentage of 89%.
Papelbon does have three losses in non-save situations which he could improve upon. But, there's no need to panic. The Atlanta loss seemed particularly deflating, but the walks Horst issued and Frandsen's defensive miscue did not help matters. (Note: I would never have not brought Horst out to pitch in a third inning; he's just not used to it). Despite some cries on Twitter, Phillippe Aumont will not be taking over for closer anytime soon.
As for Aumont, his "knees buckled" when he got the call in the ninth inning. Aumont did get the three outs despite giving up a run. The fact that he pitched the ninth instead of Antonio Bastardo or Josh Lindblom shows that the Phillies are looking at Aumont as someone who could pitch in high leverage situations in the future. If Aumont could be a reliable 8th inning right-handed reliever, the Phillies would be in much better shape going forward.
I would say that Papelbon is earning his $12.5 million salary for 2012. Of course, he has three more coming after this one. What happens then is an argument for a different day. For now, I'm happy with the job he has done.