The closer plays an important part on any winning team. We saw tonight how one of the best closers in baseball , Jonathan Papelbon, came on in the ninth inning to continue to be automatic this season in picking up saves. He preserved the Phillies 4-2 win over the Braves with another strong performance. Down on the pharm two young arms are being developed to be future closers. They are side winding lefty for Lehigh Valley Jake Diekman who can crank up a devastating slider to go with a fastball that can top out at 96 mph and Lisalverto Bonilla whose slider from the right side has been described by one opposing player as the best that he has seen in the Florida State League this season.
Diekman is now four for four in save opportunities in his new role as the IronPigs closer. Tonight he came on to pick up the save in the ninth innings by striking out the side swinging in the 4-1 Lehigh Valley win over Charlotte. So far this season Jake has struck out 20 in only 12 innings of relief. He has given up only one earned run all season.
Down in Daytona tonight in the Florida State League, Bonilla continued to grow into his role as the Threshers closer. The Threshers tied it up in the ninth on a clutch RBI double by designated hitter Chris Duffy and then won it with four runs in the 10th inning, 7-3. Though in a non save situation Bonilla came on and pitched a score less bottom of the 10th inning. The Daytona play by play crew were praising Bonilla’s slider which they reported Daytona’s outfielder Matt Szczur as saying was the best he has seen in the FSL this season. With his slider tonight Bonilla was mixing in his 93 mph fast ball and an 81 mph change up according to them.
The only downside to tonight’s Threshers game was starter Jesse Biddle had to leave after taking a line drive off his hand from the first batter of the game. No word on the severity of Biddle’s injury was reported.
Jonathan Papelbon might be the Phillies closer of the present but Jake Diekman and Lisalverto Bonilla are quickly developing into candidates for key roles in the back end of the Phillies bullpen in the future.