We here at Philthy Stuff are counting down the New Year's resolutions of each member on the Phillies, and what they can do to guide this team back to October. Last up, Jonathan Papelbon.
In 2012, no player will have as prominent a role in the late innings as the new closer. Papelbon, who spent the last six years closing games for the Boston Red Sox, has the not-so-easy job of making sure the Phillies get the W on those close games.
The right-handed closer, who signed a four-year deal with the Phillies in the offseason, is to the back end of the games as Roy Halladay is to the start of games. He's a relief ace with a reputation for getting the job done, as evidenced by his 219 saves over the last six seasons with Boston.
And when a team is built around pitching as much as the Phillies are, that kind of dominance cannot be understated. With the Phillies primed to score fewer runs this year than last, the back end of the bullpen is as crucial as it's ever been.
And for that reason, Papelbon has one resolution in 2012:
Shut the Door: When you're the closer, the only thing that matters is whether or not you get the job done. Even though the save statistic has been proven to be not-so-useful in determining the actual effectiveness of a player, the guy showing up in the ninth inning can quite literally mean the difference between a win and a loss.
With Papelbon holding down the final inning, the Phillies are in good hands. In his six years closing for the Boston Red Sox, the right-hander notched 219 saves en route to a 2.30 ERA in over 395 inning pitched. In that span, he struck out 10.8 batters per nine, while walking 2.2 per nine.
Ultimately, the Phillies are in good hands when it comes to close games in the late innings. Despite the fact that they overpaid for someone who is going to pitch in less than 10 percent of the total innings in 2012, the back end of the bullpen is nonetheless in safe hands. And now that Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge are figments of the past, the Phillies -- and their fans -- can look forward to some new blood in the final frame.