Jonathan Papelbon has had a tumultuous year.
That's not to say the Red Sox closer has had a bad season, and certainly nothing on par with his past few up-and-down campaigns. It's not really to say that he's had a brilliant year, either.
But as the bookend of the Boston bullpen heads into his finals few months under contract with the Red Sox, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com took the time to take a look at the fireballer's precarious situation.
Papelbon, who's blown only one save on the year compared to eight in the 2010 season, has also found himself in a strange predicament: while many of his contemporaries have recorded close to 40 saves, Papelbon has 21. Whereas many other closers have ERAs in the 2-2.8 region, Papelbon's is a hefty 3.96, a number he's only come close to once (3.90 in 2010).
And yet, the Red Sox have only lost five of the 39 games in which Papelbon's appeared.
It's the difficulty with a team that's as strong offensively as Boston is - there have been many games where Papelbon's seen time with a five-run-or-more lead and has, as might be expected, allowed a few runs. But when it's shutdown time, Papelbon's the go-to guy for the Red Sox again.
The ERA number might affect Papelbon's worth on the open market. It might help the Red Sox to re-sign him at a smaller salary. Or, baseball people everywhere might see past it and give the man what he deserves.