Jonathan Papelbon is hardly an old man. As a matter of fact, the Philadelphia Phillies‘ closer is only 32-years-old. That’s middle-age in baseball years. We also shouldn’t forget that he didn’t break into the major leagues until he was 24.
It’s easy to overlook someone who pitched well last year and doesn’t have a history of missing major chunks of any season in his career. But, that would be a mistake.
The Louisiana native first pitched in the big leagues in 2005. He threw 34 supplementary innings that season before he took over as the Boston Red Sox‘ stopper in 2006.
From 2006 through 2012, Papelbon pitched 465.33 innings. That was an average of 66 innings pitched per year. A good starting pitcher should throw over 200 innings per year.
A specialist like Papelbon has been geared to generate huge bursts of energy for short amounts of time. Over time that type of effort naturally causes wear on any human arm, even though far fewer innings have been thrown.
At six feet, four inches and 225 pounds this eight-year veteran has the body type to withstand the rigors of his job. But, the baseball gods have a way of leveling the playing field.
Just look at the effect that many mound wars have had on someone who was believed to be baseball’s version of Superman, Roy Halladay. His right arm began to hurt when he was 34-years-old.
My hope is that the addition of free agent setup man Mike Adams allows Papelbon to purely be a ninth-inning man this season. However, I still plan to keep my eye on number 58 (and my fingers crossed) through the 162-game grind.