Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Who needs a closer? Ryan Howard saves the day!

It looks like Ryan Madson isn't the answer at closer, either. One day after Phillies fans called for Brad Lidge's head after he blew his 9th save of the season, Madson proved that he wasn't much better in the role after he blew a 1 run lead against the Pirates on Wednesday. Madson, who got the save opportunity because Lidge was unavailable after pitching four days in a row, entered the game with a 1-0 lead in the 9th inning before blowing the save by giving up a homer. It was the 5th blown save in 9 tries this season for Madson.

Of course, who needs a closer when you have Ryan Howard? Howard, clearly annoyed by the inability of his pitchers to close out games, crushed a 3 run homer in the top of the 10th inning to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead they would never look back from. The homer, his 9th in the last 13 games, was further proof that Howard is warming up with the weather. The Phillies went on to win the game as Madson pitched a second inning in the 10th and "earned" the win.

Lost in all the closer craziness is the fact that Cole Hamels pitched a solid game for the Phillies. Hamels pitched 8 shutout innings, and although it was against the lowly Pirates, it was still a better effort than he has shown in quite a while. Hamels allowed runners on base all night but kept finding a way to pitch out of every jam he found himself in. We will see if this is a turning point for Hamels or if it was just the result of Pirate terrbileness.

So, those that want Brad Lidge out, if Ryan Madson isn't the answer at closer, who do the Phillies turn to? Some have suggested Chan Ho Park, who saved 2 games for the Dodgers last season. Others point to Brett Myers and his outing in Double A on Wednesday, where he struck out 5 batters in two innings of work. If Myers is healthy in the coming weeks, he is certainly an intriguing option.

Myers is still a few weeks away, however, so Phillies fans need to make their peace with Lidge closing games for the immediate future. Of course, if Howard continues to rake the way he is right now, having a closer might not really be necessary.

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