Brad Lidge, the perfect closer from last season, has 11 blown saves. Yet, Charlie Manuel keeps giving him opportunities to regain his form, because there isn’t anyone else to fulfill the role. Ryan Madson has thrived as a set-up man last season and currently. Brett Myers isn’t healthy enough to perform the closer role that he successfully manned a few years back. Tyler Walker, a former Giants closer, could hold down the fort, but I really haven’t seen him close a game or pitch a tight inning since he has been with the Phillies. None of the other relievers on the roster have the mentality or the power to close out games. In fact, there is a rumor flying around that J.A. Happ could be the closer. I’m sure Happ can close games, but a promising starting pitcher with some nagging injuries doesn’t the mental games that being a closer would bring. The hole at the closer position is going to be a huge problem come playoff time.
Quite frankly, the pressure is now heavily upon the starting pitching to provide at least 7 full innings of work. Also, the offense will feel the pressure to provide significant run support for the starting pitching knowing that their bullpen is faltering. Conversely, the opposing teams will do everything they can to get to the much maligned Phillies bullpen. Having this glaring weakness on this Phillies team could not only be an issue dealt with each game, but could be extremely detrimental to entire psyche and mental state of this Phillies baseball team.
A simple solution, that I am not sure is the right one, would be to install Madson as the closer. I think he could easily handle this duty if he is afforded the opportunity to prepare like a closer from the physical to mental aspects of the game. Each game the Phillies go out and play without a designated closer, it supports each member of the bullpen to NOT have the mentality to close a game. By designating Madson the closer, he’ll know and the rest of the team will know that Madson is their guy and each player can prepare for their roles appropriately. Will it happen? I doubt, I think we are stuck with some significant bullpen issues heading into a tough playoff field.