Papelbon to Close for Red Sox

by Andrew Stewart on March 22, 2007 @ 16:00:00 PDT


Erin Andrews, of ESPN, reports Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Papelbon will be the team's closer in 2007.

Papelbon had been preparing through camp to take over as the team's fourth starter in the rotation. However, with the season close at hand, and the team no closer to finding a closer, the Red Sox decided to stay with Papelbon, who was the team's closer last season.

Relief pitchers Julian Tavarez, Brendan Donnelly, Mike Timlin and Joel Pineiro were previously thought to be competing for the closer role, but Papelbon's move to the bullpen means the pitchers will likely be relegated to middle relief or setup roles. Timlin (oblique) is slated to begin the season on the disabled list. Donnelly is currently scheduled to be Papelbon's setup pitcher, but that may change when Timlin comes off the DL.

Replacing Papelbon in the starting rotation will likely be pitchers Jon Lester or Kyle Snyder. As a rookie last year Lester went 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA despite a 1.65 WHIP. He's working his way back from lymphoma, diagnosed last year, and has been limited this spring. He isn't expected to be ready to join the rotation right away and will likely start the season at Triple-A Pawtucket. Snyder has a career 5.94 ERA and 1.58 WHIP while shuffling between starting and relief roles. The Red Sox may turn to Tavarez, instead of Snyder, for a couple of starts while Lester regains his form. None are fantasy options immediately, although Lester is a former top prospect with some upside.

Papelbon pitched sparingly in his first season with the Red Sox in 2005, but in 2006, his first whole season on the 25-man roster, Papelbon saved 35 games as the team's closer. In 59 appearances and 68 1/3 innings pitched, Papelbon kept his ERA at 0.92 and WHIP at 0.78. He is 7-3 lifetime with a 1.42 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.

Papelbon's move to the bullpen means owners can draft him higher than he was going as a starter, and with confidence. Whether or not Papelbon would make a good starting pitcher, Papelbon was a dominant closer last season, and now should be one of the first closers off the board.

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About Andrew Stewart

Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.

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