Remember the fastball flung from the hand of Jonathan Papelbon that was causing so much distress — the fastball that’s being thrown at a diminished 92.7 mph and has raised questions regarding the closer’s ability to finish games?
Well, that fastball, lacking its past velocity, is doing just fine.
This season, opponents are hitting a meager .154 against Papelbon’s heater, and it’s been the punctuation on seven of his eight strikeouts.
Since his collapse in Texas, Papelbon has tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and converting all six of his save opportunities.
The 33-year-old is hitting spots, mixing and matching and still throwing the fastball with confidence in all counts.
Maybe he was right all along.
"Why do you guys care about velo so much, man?" Papelbon said to reporters after saving the Phillies’ 1-0 win on April 17. "Is that -- does that matter? You think that matters? I don’t understand that. I mean, if a ball has life at the plate and you are throwing 88 miles an hour as opposed to 98 miles an hour, it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference. Whether you throw 93 or 94 or 84. I just, I don’t get it, man."
In fact, Papelbon does get it. And so far, he’s been right.