Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ryan Madson, your new Phillies closer (for now)

The unthinkable might have finally happened. Charlie Manuel, who has been loyal to his players almost to a fault, may have finally had enough of Brad Lidge blowing games for the Phillies. After blowing 10 (!!) saves this season and nearly blowing another one on Tuesday night, Manuel appears to have turned the closer role over to Ryan Madson. At least for now.

It all started on Tuesday night when, after Lidge let two runners on and got one out, Manuel put Madson in the game and he threw 6 consecutive strikes to clean up Lidge's mess and earn the save. While that was the first sign that Manuel seemed to be turning on Lidge, the real news comes out of Wednesday night's game when Lidge was bypassed completely. With the Phillies clinging to a one run lead, Madson entered the game in the 9th inning for the save opportunity and, while he was a bit shaky, got the job done.

So, Ryan Madson now appears to be the Phillies closer. Will it last the rest of the season? I doubt it. Like I said before, Charlie Manuel is loyal to a fault with his players, so you can bet Brad Lidge will get another chance or two to close games for the Phillies. Of course, there is also the chance that Brett Myers finds his way into the closer role considering he has done it before and he has looked better and better with each outing. It would be extremely difficult but the best option for the Phillies might be to rotate closers, playing the hot hand and picking the right matchups. I don't know that I trust Manuel to weigh all the options correctly when choosing his closer on a given day, though, so that might not really be a good idea.

It's unbelievable how much drama now surrounds the Phillies closer situation. Whatever happens, whoever ends up taking on the role, I just hope it happens soon. The last thing the Phillies need is to be rotating closers in the playoffs. Just like rotating goalies in the NHL, rotating closers just doesn't work. Stick with one guy and he will get in the right mindset to get the job done. Jerk three guys around and they won't be able to get into a rhythm.

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