TBOH Awards – Top Reliever: Jonathan Papelbon


Aug 1, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) celebrates with catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) after beating the Washington Nationals 2-1 at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

In part one of our TBOH Awards, we unveiled the staff’s choice of Cole Hamels as the Philadelphia Phillies top starting pitcher in 2014. Next we came together to determine the club’s best relief pitcher of the season. With 3-of-4 staff members choosing Jonathan Papelbon, we collectively agreed the closer was the proper choice.

Chris Eckstine – Jonathan Papelbon

Everyone remembers the bad, but take a minute and consider the good. Papelbon was solid. Do I personally think his best days are behind him? More than likely, but in 2014 he was the Phillies best out of the pen. Of course there were blown saves, but as Papelbon often reminds us – he doesn’t care. Consider the fact that he takes the ball when it’s the ninth inning and he simply does not care what happened last game. Any quality closer has a knack for treating each game like a new day.

The decline in velocity became a scary issue for Pap, but he’s found ways to get outs. He didn’t rely on the gas to get it done and maybe that’s been part of the reason he’s sometimes come in several games in a row. No matter the case, Papelbon was solid overall despite a few young relievers having some true success.

We just might be talking about another guy for this award at this time next year. Who knows if Pap will even wear the Phils’ colors in 2015…

Matthew Veasey – Jonathan Papelbon

There is no doubt that Ken Giles‘ numbers were better this season. But the fact is, he didn’t do it as the Closer, at the end, when the games are actually on the line in the highest pressure situations. Papelbon did his work at crunch time, and he did it well. He registered 39 Saves with a 2.04 ERA, a 0.905 WHIP, a 63/15 K/BB ratio in 66.1 IP. That innings total was 2nd among the team’s relievers to Jake Diekman. Giles should have many years contending for this award, but Paps earned it over a full season this year.

Mike Lacy – Jonathan Papelbon

Heading into the season, most people had already written off Jonathan Papelbon. He had a shaky 2013 season, and his velocity was famously diminished. After he blew a save in the first week, it appeared as if it would be a disastrous season for the closer.

And then oddly enough, Papelbon got good. For the majority of the season, when Papelbon entered the game with a lead, the Phillies walked away with a victory.

Perhaps most impressively, he wasn’t racking up easy three-run lead saves either. Thanks to the Phillies’ disappointing offense, Papelbon usually had little margin for error when he entered the game.

A lot went wrong for the Phillies in 2014. However, the closer was not one of those things.

Oliver FisherJustin De Fratus

Some may see it as a strange pick, but I have selected Justin De Fratus as reliever of the year. Posting a 3-1 record over 52.2 innings and 54 games, De Fratus established himself as a reliable reliever, allowing just 14 earned runs and striking out 49 (walking 12).

He should be a big part of the Phillies’ future with any sense, and its nice to see his game mature season on season as it has.