Phillies Leaning Toward Contreras to Close?

The Phillies have two choices to replace Brad Lidge as closer.

Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras.

Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee agree they need to pick one man to fill the job, and I get the feeling they’re leaning toward Contreras.

Madson has pitched 21 times in save situations as a closer the previous two seasons. He has converted 15 of those chances with a 4.84 ERA. Contreras threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings with four saves in four opportunities as a closer last season. Madson has better stuff and is more durable than Contreras, but he has pressed when he has closed. Contreras has had more success, but in a much smaller sample size. Contreras also is 39, and Dubee said he needs to keep his eye on him more to keep him fresh.

But Dubee said his need to keep Contreras fresh would not detract from him closing.

Is Madson better prepared to close this season than previous seasons?

“I don’t think so,” Dubee said. “Ryan Madson is Ryan Madson. What did he do? Take a crash course in how to close? We’re in Spring Training here.”

So what has been his issue?

“I think the game speeds up on him sometimes,” Dubee said. “He doesn’t get to the same comfort level. There’s a little anxiety there. The ninth inning is a little different than the eighth. There have been a solid eighth-inning guys that haven’t been able to pitch the ninth. One day they learn how to do it.”

Dubee said he saw some progress in Madson last season, until Madson broke his big right toe in April when he kicked a chair in San Francisco. Dubee allowed the possibility Madson could relax as a closer if he knew the job was his, even if he blew a save or two.

“Good closers have no memory,” Dubee said. “You talk about a short memory. They have no memory. What happened today is gone with a good closer. Yesterday doesn’t even exist. Good closers don’t remember a whole lot.”

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