But he has been part of the problem lately, including Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. He blew his sixth save in 13 opportunities since mid-June, allowing two runs in the ninth inning to waste a splendid performance from Cole Hamels.
"Whether I blow a game or whether I save a game, whatever is happening within the organization, I feel like I'm honest and forthcoming and I'm the same way after games like tonight," Papelbon said. "I accept things. I don't shy away from things. That's just the way I approach it and that's just the way I go to work on a daily basis. I feel like that's the best way to go about a day's work is to just be honest with yourself and be honest with the position you're in and not try to sugarcoat anything or trying to see something for what it's not. That's the way I've always been. I go by facts and I stand by what I say. I don't feel like I said anything that wasn't true."
The Phillies loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth against Giants closer Sergio Romo, but could not score the tying run. Those failures, plus having two runners thrown out at the plate in the seventh and eighth innings, played a role in the loss, but everybody left the ballpark talking about Papelbon's latest blown save.
Especially because it came on the heels of strong comments made Sunday to MLB.com.
"I definitely didn't come here for this," he said at Comerica Park after a loss to the Tigers.
When asked about his team's ability to turn things around, he said: "It's going to take, in my opinion, a lot. And, in my opinion, I think it's going to have to be something very similar to what the Red Sox went through a couple years ago. From top to bottom."
Papelbon added he did not want to be traded, but couched his comment when he said: "But if I'm going to have to put up with this year after year, then no, I don't want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?"
The Phillies would have traded Papelbon before Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, if they could have found some interest and the right return. But general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said after the Deadline he received minimal interest in his closer, whom the Phillies signed to a four-year, $50 million contract in November 2011.
The lack of interest came for a few reasons: He is owed $26 million over the final two years of his deal, his performance has suffered since mid-June, and his velocity has dipped. His fastball hovered in the 91-92 mph range Thursday.
Papelbon allowed four consecutive hits to Hunter Pence, Brett Pill, Roger Kieschnick and Joaquin Arias to ruin Hamels' night. None of the balls were crushed, but they each found holes. In the past, Papelbon might have gotten a strikeout or two, but those numbers have dropped. He averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings from 2010-12, but is averaging just 7.78 this season.
"I think my ball has life at the plate, which is all I care about," Papelbon said. "If I'm getting hit all over the ballpark with hard-hit balls, I have to reassess. After a night like tonight you just kind of chalk it up to that's that. I felt like, honestly, I felt all of my pitches were working. I felt good. I felt strong. It was just one of those nights."
It made a strong night from Hamels a footnote. Hamels allowed seven hits, one walk and struck out five in eight scoreless innings. He even knocked in the team's only run in the fifth, when he dropped a ball down the left-field line to score Laynce Nix with two outs to make it 1-0.
After loading the bases in the ninth, Romo got Nix to fly out to shallow right, Carlos Ruiz to shallow left and induced a weak groundout from pinch-hitter Erik Kratz for the final out.
Hamels has won a World Series in Philadelphia, so he has lived though the good times. He signed a seven-year, $144 million contract last July.
Asked what he thought about Papelbon's comments, he said: "I don't like to lose. Ultimately, I didn't sign here to lose. I think a lot of the thoughts that we have don't get voiced a lot, and sometimes they do get voiced, and it can look really bad. But, I think all of us, we want to win, and we're very capable of winning, but it's not happening and it becomes very frustrating. I think that's kind of where the human nature of not being able to control our emotions and things start to creep out that don't need to be said, but at the same time, obviously things are going to have to be addressed. If we keep going down this path, there will have to be changes. Myself included, I need to go out and win and try to be the best pitcher I can every five days."
Papelbon said he hasn't spoken with Amaro or manager Charlie Manuel since he expressed his opinion.
"I don't think there is anything to really hash out," Papelbon said. "Facts are facts and when you look in the mirror at the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself.
"What I say and what I do is based on seeing yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and if you're working hard and if you're not working hard and being real and not sugarcoating anything, I don't think. This is the big leagues, this isn't coaches pitch. At the end of the day, not everyone gets a trophy. You have to look yourself in the mirror and examine yourself if you're consistently not getting the job done. You make adjustments. It's a game of adjustments unless you don't got to make any. It's pretty simple, really."