Meet the Newest Big Three

With 2011 spring training in its infant stages, the majority of the talk coming out of Fort Myers has been about the Red Sox closer situation.  Last season was the worst for Jonathan Papelbon as he posted a 3.90 ERA and blew 8 saves.  I was especially hard on Pap and actually blamed him for the Red Sox not making the playoffs.

Most of the winter, Sox fans wondered if Papelbon would be traded, allowing the young (he has the same exact birthday as me) Daniel Bard to assume the closer role.  Bard was solid last year albeit overworked because of the lack of quality arms in the bullpen that bridged to Papelbon.  Manny Delcarmen was effective as viagra on an eunuch, the league figured out Hideki Okajima, and Scott Atchison was pretty much a mop up guy.

The off season came and went.  Papelbon is still the Red Sox closer.  Bard is still the set up man.  But Theo did revamp the bullpen in a big way.  On December 16, 2o10, the Red Sox announced they had signed White Sox closer Bobby Jenks to a 2 year $12 million deal.  This raised a few eyebrows around the region and Red Sox fans started wondering what the future of the Boston bullpen.

My take? I’m excited about the potential of this bullpen.  Although Papelbon was terrible last year, we as fans must remember what he was like before he turned into Rick Vaughn in Major League 2 and fell in love with himself.  We had anointed Papelbon the next “Mo” believing that we finally had an answer for the Yankees.  He was lights out from 2006-2009 saving 151 games and never having an ERA above 2.34.  In six seasons with the White Sox, Bobby Jenks saved 173 games.  Both he and Papelbon have a World Series ring and have experienced pressure (and thrived under it) before.  Daniel Bard may actually have the most to gain with the signing of Jenks.  He will not be asked to pitch the 7th and 8th innings anymore.  He can uncork his 101 mph fastball more often because he won’t be overworked like he was a season ago.

This season Papelbon is motivated because it is a contract year.  This season he has a proven closer on his heels and an aspiring one not far behind him either.  The slightest of slip-ups and Red Sox Nation will be calling for some type of change.

I have confidence that this trio will help shorten the game for the rotation because they will be lights out.  The formula for success in late innings? Bard. Jenks. Papelbon. Ballgame over. Thanks for coming.

Edit: A previous version of this post had Papelbon blowing 7 saves last season.  He actually blew 8.  (Either way he was awful).

I can be followed on Twitter at Scottientcf


One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Gambardella, Scott Patterson. Scott Patterson said: Meet the Newest Big Three: Quick thoughts on the #RedSox newest big three […]

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