This year, because you all failed to vote for Maikel Franco (RIP #WriteInFranco), Jonathan Papelbon will be the Phillies lone representative at tonight's All-Star Game. Papelbon has never been a team's lone representative as he has usually been on competent baseball teams.
The Phillies also have been competent at baseball prior to this season and have had multiple All-Stars every year since 2004. In 2003, the last year the Phillies only sent one player to the All-Star game, Randy Wolf was a lonely Phillie at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. He gave up one run in one inning of pitching as the National League lost by one run.
This year, Jonathan Papelbon has appropriated the national stage as a platform from which he has attempted to bully the Phillies in to trading him. As seen in the picture at the top of this article, he is even getting his children fall in love with other mascots so that they can throw tantrums to Andy MacPhail or Pat Gillick or Ruben Amaro or John Middleton to influence a trade.
But, for now at least, Papelbon is a member of the Phillies and as such, his performance tonight will either make Phillies fans proud or fill us all with utter shame. In anticipation of these reactions, it is best to accurately gauge what our expectations should be for Papelbon. To do so, we will look at all 5 of his previous trips to the All-Star game.
Despite pitching 34 innings for the Red Sox in 2005, Papelbon was still considered a rookie for the purposes of award-voting. So, while technically still a rookie, Papelbon was named to his first All-Star team. He entered All-Star weekend with impressive first-half numbers: 0.59 ERA, 26 saves, and a 5.88 K:BB ratio. Manager Ozzie Guillen chose not to put Papelbon in the game, instead opting to employ such luminaries as B.J. Ryan and Kenny Rogers. Unlike those two, Papelbon would have future All-Star opportunities.
2007: 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 SO
With his American League squad leading 5-2 over the National League, Jonathan Papelbon came in to pitch the 8th inning. While he maintained a three-run lead for the AL, Paps did not do so in the smoothest of ways. After giving up a lead-off single to Cubs 1B Derrek Lee, Lee was able to advance to second as Diamondbacks' 2B Orlando Hudson struck out swinging. Lee would find himself on third with one out after he was able to advance on a 2-2 passed ball to Phillies representative Aaron Rowand. Papelbon came back with the next pitch to strike out Rowand swinging. The next batter, Pirate 2B and maker of weird faces, Freddy Sanchez flew out to center on the first pitch he saw to end the inning.
2008: 1 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 2 SO
The next year, Papelbon was once again called upon to pitch the 8th inning in an All-Star game so meaningful, so full of matter, that it eventually went to 15 innings to determine the all-important champion of the game of stars.
Anyway, Papelbon pitched the 8th inning again and, this time, gave up a run--the only run he has surrendered in an All-Star game in his career. Once again, he gave up a leadoff single, this time on a linedrive to RF from Houston SS Miguel Tejada. Fans of the game--presumably Yankees fans, specifically--were not impressed with Papelbon's ability and littered the air with an original chorus of "overrated."
After striking out Marlins 2B Dan Uggla, Tejada attempted to steal second and was able to reach third after AL Catcher Dioner Navarro threw the ball away. On the next pitch--the second of his at-bat--Padres 1B Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to LF. Tejada scored, but it went in the books as an unearned run due to Navarro's throwing error. It only took Papelbon three pitches to strike out the next batter, Phillies nemesis and Mets 3B David Wright, to end the inning.
2009: 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 SO
In 2009, AL Manager Joe Maddon threw a curveball Papelbon's way and called on him to pitch the 7th inning with the game tied at 3. But, unlike previous years where Papelbon allowed runners to reach base, in 2009 he breezed through the NL lineup 1-2-3 on 10 pitches.
Rockies RF Brad Hawpe, a player all non-Hawpe kin have forgotten existed, flew out to LF on the first pitch. The next batter, Miguel Tejada, also flew out on the first pitch. The next batter, Phillies RF Jayson Werth, as he is wont to do, made Papelbon throw a couple of pitches. Although he eventually struck out swinging, he made Papelbon throw 8 pitches to do it. The AL scored in the bottom of the inning to earn Papelbon his first All-Star win.
2012: 0.1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 SO
In his most recent All-Star appearance, Papelbon was called on to get the most important out of all: The final out of the game. With the NL leading 8-0, NL Manager Tony LaRussa decided that, even with two outs in the ninth inning, no lead could be too safe. Facing Matt Wieters with Elvis Andrus on third, Papelbon induced a weak fly ball to right field to end the game.
Although the box score did not credit him with a save, we all know that Paps' efforts were both instrumental to and necessary for the National League securing the victory.
Cumulative All-Star Line: 3.1 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 SO
Papelbon is pretty good at this All-Star thing. Even facing the best hitters the game has to offer, he has managed to prevent runs and hits at a high rate. Even more encouraging is that he has struck out 5 batters in 3.1 innings, good for an Aroldis Chapman-esque 13.5 K/9. Based on his past performance in the All-Star Game, therefore, we are forced to conclude that, should he appear in tonight's game, Papelbon will do the Phillies proud in helping--rather than hindering--the National League in their attempts to secure home-field advantage in the World Series.