Results tagged ‘ Brett Myers ’

It's Lidge or Madson … Or Not


Thumbnail image for lidge 0529.jpgCharlie Manuel
is going to stick with Brad Lidge or Ryan Madson in the ninth inning.

Unless he’s not.

“We’ll do what we have to do,” Manuel said before tonight’s series opener against the Brewers at Miller Park. “We’ll see. Whatever we think, whatever we want to do, I’ll do it. I’m open to what I’m going to do, yeah.”

The never-ending ninth-inning saga for the Phillies continued after Lidge blew his Major League-leading 11th save of the season last night in a 7-6 loss to the Marlins at Land Shark Stadium. Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA with 31 saves in 42 opportunities. In four appearances since Manuel returned Lidge to the closer’s role, he is 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA and three saves in four opportunities. Opponents have hit .421 against him. Lidge is on track to become one of just five pitchers in baseball history to finish a season with no wins, eight or more losses and a 7.00 ERA or higher:

  • Ed O’Neil went 0-8 with a 9.26 ERA in eight games in 1890 with Toledo and Philadelphia of the American Association.
  • Charlie Stecher went 0-10 with a 10.32 ERA in 10 games in 1890 with Philadelphia of the American Association.
  • Edgar Gonzalez went 0-9 with a 9.32 ERA in 10 games in 2004 with Arizona.
  • Russ Ortiz went 0-8 with an 8.14 ERA in 26 games in 2006 with Arizona and Baltimore.

Who would the alternatives be? 

Brett Myers would make sense, but he is hurt. He will throw bullpen sessions next Tuesday and Thursday, which would leave him no more than three games to show Manuel he could handle the job in the postseason.

Fans have asked about Pedro Martinez or J.A. Happ, but they seem unlikely. Martinez is 37 and has never closed before. Happ also has no experience in the role. One of them obviously will be in the postseason rotation. The other could be valuable as a multi-innings guy in the pen, especially if Chan Ho Park is hurt. 

Tyler Walker? He is 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA in 27 appearances. He has closed before.

“He’s done a good job for us in the role he’s in,” Manuel said of Walker. “We’ll do whatever it takes that we think will win a game. I might give you guys something really good to write about.

“If you look and see what our pitching situation is right now, who we have there … both of those guys (Lidge and Madson), they are our talented guys. As far as stuff-wise and experience-wise and things like that. It kind of made it tough. But at the same time we’ve got to try to do something to win games, too.”

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11 Blown Saves, 11 Games to Play

lidge 0923.jpgIt is impossibly difficult to picture a Phillies repeat with more performances like this.

Charlie Manuel sees it, too.

“It’s getting tough,” he said following a 7-6 loss to the Marlins last night at Land Shark Stadium. “We’ve got to close the games out. When you’re winning a game in the ninth inning, the winning teams win those games. We’re not closing the games out. Everybody out there knows it.

“When you get right down to it you’re supposed to win those games. You’re supposed to win a majority of those games. I mean a high percentage of those games. Exactly what percent I don’t know, but it’s goddamn high.”

Brad Lidge blew his Major League-leading 11th game of the season. He is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA and 31 saves in 42 opportunities. Opponents have hit .305 against him. Since Manuel pulled him from a Sept. 8 game in Washington, he is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in five appearances. Opponents have hit .391 against him. In four appearances since Manuel returned him to the closer’s role, he is 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA and three saves in four opportunities. Opponents have hit .421 against him.

The Phillies were 79-0 when leading after eight innings last season. They are 75-10 this season.

“He was our closer last year and we signed him to be our closer now,” Manuel said of Lidge. “He’s struggling. But at the same time, it’s hard for us to close the game out. It’s tough. It’s kind of what we’ve got. I’ve got confidence in him. I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say. I pull like hell for him every time he goes out there, believe me. I guarantee you that.”

Manuel sees no clear alternative (apparently Tyler Walker is not a candidate), although I believe if Brett Myers were healthy he would be closing the next time the Phillies had a save situation. Myers is going to throw a bullpen next Tuesday, and he said he will be back before the end of the regular season. Right-hander Ryan Madson is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA this season, but is 1-3 with a 7.24 ERA and 8-for-14 in save opportunities.

“We’re waiting to see how long Brett is going to be,” Manuel said. “I mean, right now Brett’s not even in the picture.”

Lidge continues to maintain he can turn this around before the playoffs, but with each shaky appearance it seems less and less likely.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Lidge said. “I’m disappointed, but they hit the ball tonight. They did a good job. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get another chance to get something started again, but, yeah, I’m definitely frustrated a little bit at a loss, but I’m sure there are some things I can do better.”

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Your Tuesday Injury Update

We’ve got doubleheader baseball today at Land Shark Stadium. We’ve also got Phillies injury updates:

  • Pedro Martinez. He left Saturday’s start in Atlanta after three innings after he strained a muscle on the right side of his neck while swinging the bat. Martinez said he felt a little better after visiting a chiropractor in Miami, but to give him extra time to recover the Phillies pushed back his start from Friday to Saturday in Milwaukee. Cliff Lee will pitch Friday instead. Ruben Amaro Jr. said Martinez threw today and felt pretty good, but the Phillies will know more after tomorrow’s bullpen session.
  • Brett Myers. He had a MRI on his right shoulder today in Philadelphia. He has a Grade 1 strain of his right latissimus dorsi. He will throw a bullpen next Tuesday, and the Phillies said they hope he will be able to pitch again before the end of the regular season.
  • Scott Eyre. He has not pitched since Sept. 7 because of a “loose body” in his left elbow. He threw a bullpen session before Game 1 of today’s doubleheader against the Marlins, and pitching coach Rich Dubee pronounced Eyre ready for action.
  • J.A. Happ. He is fine and will start Thursday in Milwaukee as scheduled. He left Friday’s game in Atlanta after three innings after manager Charlie Manuel thought he favored the rib cage muscle that caused him to miss his previous two starts.
  • Chan Ho Park. He continues to progress from a strained right hamstring. There is no schedule for when he might pitch again, but Amaro said it is possible Park could begin pitching as early as next week.
  • J.C. Romero. He threw 50 pitches in a bullpen session yesterday in Clearwater, Fla. He is expected to pitch Thursday in the Instructional League.
  • Jack Taschner. He has a strained back and continues to progress in Clearwater, Amaro said.
  • Carlos Ruiz. He said his sprained left wrist feels better and will play in Game 2.
  • Greg Dobbs. Miguel Cairo started at third base in Game 1 because Manuel said Dobbs’ right calif isn’t completely healthy. Dobbs said it won’t be 100 percent the remainder of the season, but it doesn’t affect him at the plate.

UPDATE ON MYERS (8:08 p.m.) READ ABOVE.

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It’s about 30 minutes before first pitch in Game 1 and I’m guess there aren’t more than 200 fans in the stands.

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Myers Has Sore Shoulder

The Phillies certainly could have used Brett Myers this weekend at Turner Field.

But Myers never pitched, despite the fact the bullpen pitched 16 innings in the three-game series. In fact, Myers has not pitched since Sept. 12 against the Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Myers said Friday he had not thrown because Phillies starters had been going deep into games. But that no longer held true after J.A. Happ pitched three innings Friday, Pedro Martinez pitched three innings last night and Cliff Lee pitched four innings this afternoon.

Phillies general manger Ruben Amaro Jr. said following today’s 4-2 victory over the Braves that Myers has had soreness in the back of his right shoulder for more than a week. Myers will fly to Philadelphia on Tuesday to see team physician Michael Ciccotti to “see if there’s anything very serious about it.”

Myers, reached by telephone, said, “I don’t think it’s real serious. I have some stiffness and tightness and they want me to go get it checked out.”

The Phillies have just 14 games to play before the postseason, and with left-handers Scott Eyre (loose body in his left elbow), J.C. Romero (strained left forearm) and Jack Taschner (strained back) and right-hander Chan Ho Park (strained right hamstring) sidelined with injuries, this comes at a bad time. But Myers, who missed more than two months in 2007 with a strained right shoulder, sounded optimistic he would be pitching before the end of the regular season. He said he has thrown each of the previous four days and has felt better each time.

“I should be back,” he said.

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Looking October Worthy

lee 0915.jpg“They have a lot pros over there. Lee and Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels go deep in ballgames. That’s a good formula for winning.” — Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman.

The past few nights at Citizens Bank Park have been impressive, and perhaps a glimpse into the future.

Cliff Lee shutout the Nationals tonight at Citizens Bank Park, 5-0, two nights after Pedro Martinez threw 130 pitches in eight shutout innings Sunday in a 1-0 victory over the Mets. Two nights before that, Cole Hamels allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA in his previous four starts.

“Our one to five is as good as anybody’s,” Lee said of a rotation that also includes Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ. “I don’t think you necessarily have to have a 1-2 punch. I think we’ve got a 1-2-3-4-5 punch. That’s never ending.”

It is too early to say what the postseason rotation will look like, but I think the health of left-handers Scott Eyre and J.C. Romero could play a part in it. If they are not healthy, the Phillies could move Happ into the bullpen to give them a left-hander. If that happens, Martinez obviously makes the rotation.

(And, yes, I know the Mets and Nationals aren’t the Dodgers, Rockies or Cardinals, but the Philllies starters are doing what they should do against these offenses. Shut them down.)

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The last time the Phillies had shutouts in consecutive games was April 27-28, 2003, when Kevin Millwood threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory against the Giants at Veterans Stadium and Brett Myers, Dan Plesac and Jose Mesa combined for a 3-0 victory against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

I remember Millwood’s no-hitter well. I had started the Phillies beat a couple weeks earlier for The Philadelphia Inquirer, but because the Phillies opened a series the next night in Los Angeles, I flew to California that afternoon. In other words, the very first game I missed as a Phillies beat writer Kevin Freakin’ Millwood throws a no-hitter. I remember getting into my rental car at LAX, turning on the radio and hearing Vin Scully say, “And Kevin Millwood has a no-hitter through eight innings!” I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I still can’t believe it.

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The last time the Phillies had consecutive shutouts in Philadelphia was Aug. 15-16, 2002, against the Brewers and Cardinals. Joe Roa, Mike Timlin and Carlos Silva combined for the shutout against the Brewers, and Randy Wolf shutout the Cardinals.

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Carlos Ruiz is hitting .429 (18-for-42) with one homer and nine RBIs in his past 17 games.

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Manuel Likes Myers in 8th, Madson in 9th


madson 0911.jpgCharlie Manuel
has said he could use Ryan Madson, Brett Myers or Brad Lidge in save situatons the rest of the season.

But since Manuel pulled Lidge in the ninth inning Tuesday in Washington, he has used Madson three times in save situations. Madson is three-for-three, including tonight’s 4-2 victory over the Mets.

Myers needed just six pitches to get out of the eighth, but Manuel said after the game he wanted Madson in the ninth.

“We’re trying to establish something where we can get going and set up,” he said. “We can have Myers tomorrow if we wanted. We want to make sure we can line our bullpen up. I figure right now that we’ve got two big arms there.

“(Pitching coach Rich) Dubee and I talked. We’re definitely going to get Lidge back out there when we think that he’s ready and he’s throwing the ball real good. I’d like to give him a little bit of time just to kind of settle down from a mental state and for his command. Yeah, eventually we’re going to eventually get him back out there, but right now we’re just going to go day-to-day.”

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Raul Ibanez is hitting .379 (11-for-29) with three doubles and three doubles in the past seven games. Ibanez hit his 30th double of the season in the fifth inning, giving him 30 or more doubles eight consecutive seasons. … Shane Victorino tied a career-high with three doubles. … Cole Hamels improved to 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA (five earned runs in 29 2/3 innings) in his last four starts. … Jayson Werth has reached base safely (via hit or walk) in 14 consecutive games (13 hits, 12 walks).

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Last Night It's Madson, Tomorrow Night It's … ?


madson 0909.jpgCharlie Manuel
had two options to pitch the ninth inning last night at Nationals Park:

- Brad Lidge.
- Ryan Madson.

Brett Myers could have been an option, except he had pitched Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday and had warmed up Monday. He was unavailable. So with a 6-5 lead in the ninth inning against the Nationals, Manuel chose … Madson to get the save.

“I wanted to leave Lidge alone,” Manuel said. “Lidge will get the chance to save some games for us, but tonight I wanted Madson.”

And tomorrow night?

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ll just wait and see. I don’t want that to be a big thing. He was a great closer last year and he’s still got that kind of stuff. He’s got the talent. I don’t think there’s no reason in the world he can’t eventually get right, whether it’s this week or tomorrow or two weeks from now or a month or whatever, or next year or two years from now or three or whatever. I think he’s still a good pitcher. I’m not down on Lidge at all. Not at all. I’ve still got confidence in him.”

But clearly that confidence has waned. Lidge is 0-7 with a 7.11 ERA and a Major League-leading 10 blown saves. Manuel said before the game that he hung with Lidge for a long time, but with less than a month to play before the postseason this teams needs to win. Maybe getting out of the closer’s role will help Lidge. Maybe not. But Manuel is focused on getting to the postseason, and winning in the postseason once the Phillies get there. Lidge simply has been too erratic to make Manuel feel comfortable about his chances.

How will this work? Manuel sounds like he is going with a closer by committee approach, although he never used those words. Madson got the nod last night. Manuel said Lidge will get opportunities. I assume Myers will, once he gets a little more comfortable.

Can this work? It can. Madson is getting more comfortable in the ninth inning. Myers loved the job in 2007. Few are better when Lidge is right. If Manuel and Rich Dubee pick and choose the right pitchers for the right nights, it could work.

Will it work? We’ll see. Closing ain’t easy.

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Lidge Forces Manuel's Hand


lidge 0908.jpgCharlie Manuel
had been dreading this move for weeks, but Brad Lidge finally forced his hand.

The Phillies entered last night’s ninth inning against Washington with a 5-3 lead, and Manuel went to Lidge as expected. Manuel told reporters before the game that he had confidence in him, but that his patience had a limit. Lidge needed to start producing consistently with the postseason less than a month away.

“There comes a time when, I don’t know …” Manuel said. “We’re trying to win a championship.”

That time finally came. Lidge allowed a single to Wil Nieves to start the inning. A hit batter, wild pitch and walk later, Manuel pulled Lidge, who had loaded the bases with one out, for Ryan Madson, who retired the next two batters on six pitches to end the game.

“That’s a tough call,” Manuel said. “I have all the respect in the world for Brad. I know how good a closer he is, and I know how great he can be. I’ve still got all the confidence in the world in him. But I’m sitting there and I didn’t have a very good feel about the game. And I made up my mind that I wanted to try Madson. Things will work out and be OK, but at the same it’s real tough.”

Manuel said he continues to have confidence in Lidge, but his actions spoke differently.

“Let me tell you something,” Manuel said. “When I tell you he’s my closer, I don’t tell lies. I don’t like to go back on nothing. But the team and the game is bigger than my heart and it’s bigger than anything else, if you want to know the truth. Winning a game is what it’s all about. It’s baseball and why I manage and it’s what comes first.”

Asked who will close tonight if there is a save situation, Manuel said Lidge could be the guy. But Lidge said Manuel told him in his office that he would get the shot.

“If there is a save situation tomorrow he said he was going to bring me in,” Lidge said.

Why? I believe Manuel has a couple reasons: 1) He realizes this team has its best chance to win if Lidge is right. And because the Phillies have a six-game lead in the National League East they still have time to get him right. 2) Manuel knows he has Lidge as his closer the next two seasons. If he crushes Lidge’s confidence today it could have long lasting effects.

I think Manuel’s first reason far outweighs his second reason. Manuel is focused on this year. He wants to win consecutive World Series. (That’s why he vented Monday in Houston.) But clearly the first domino has fallen for Lidge. I could see Manuel running Lidge out there a couple more weeks before settling on Myers or Madson with a week or two to go in the regular season. I’m sure Manuel would like to feel settled — and have the closer feel settled — entering the postseason.

Lidge still has time, but time is running out. The clock started ticking last night.

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Myers Is Back, Victorino Tries the Dark Helmet Look


myers closer.jpgBrett Myers
is back.

He is back, but he won’t be on the active roster until tomorrow night’s series opener in Houston. He will be in the bullpen, pitching in the sixth and seventh innings to start. If he does well, you will see him in the later innings, especially if Brad Lidge struggles or needs a day off.

“I’m ready for whatever,” Myers said. “Once I’m on that roster, it’s in (Charlie Manuel‘s) hands.”

Asked about potentially closing, Myers said, “Well, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. That’s how I feel about it. Brad’s the closer here, and I wish him well and I’m pulling for him every night. If he is sore one day or if he’s thrown three days in a row or something, there’s plenty of guys down there that can jump in that spot and do it. I don’t necessarily have to be the guy that does it, but it’s always fun to do. But I just want ot get my feet underneath me and get a couple of games in before I’m ready to do the major stuff, I guess.”

You have to wonder what would have happened had Myers never gotten hurt. Do they make the Cliff Lee trade? Do they only go after Pedro Martinez? Maybe the stars aligned so the Phillies would add Lee and Martinez and the bullpen would add Myers.

“They’re definitely stronger,” Myers said of the rotation. “I just wish I would have had a better hip to be able to pitch a little better in the rotation. You take what you can get. I was dealt a semi-unforuntate hand, but I’m glad it worked out the way it did.”

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I said Tuesday on Twitter that David Wright looked like Spaceballs’ Dark Helmet in his new batting helmet, which he wore after suffering a concussion. Like I always say, safety first. But still … those helmets are HUGE. Well, Shane Victorino is giving the new helmets a shot tonight. He has traded in his trademark double-flapped helmet for a pair of single-flapped helmets that are able to withstand baseballs thrown at 100 mph.

Like Tiny Elvis would say, “Look at that helmet, man. That thing’s huge.”

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Thinking of the Possibilities

hamels 0901.jpgWe have heard plenty lately about how nobody wants to face the Giants in the postseason, especially in the best-of-five National League Division Series.

Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain?

You got a death wish or something?

But if Cole Hamels is back — he certainly looked like it tonight in a complete game 1-0 victory over the Giants — how scary does a rotation that includes Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ look?

Hamels has tied a career-high with 19 scoreless innings. Lee is 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA in six starts. Blanton is 7-3 with a 2.49 ERA in 17 starts since May 26. Happ is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA, making him a frontrunner for National League Rookie of the Year.

“If everybody pitches like they can and Joe continues to pitch the way he has then it could be a heck of a rotation,” Jimmy Rollins said. “But I think on the other side of it, we can’t count on that. If we do we’ll stop hitting. And if they count on us to keep hitting they’ll stop pitching. We go out there with a job to do on the other side of the ball, defensively and offensively, and we’ve got some pitchers who will hopefully do what they’re supposed to do on their side of the ball. If we do that we’ll be all right.”

Hamels has not allowed a run since the third inning at Citi Field on Aug. 21.

The difference? His fastball has been a big reason why he has improved. Hamels’ money pitch is his changeup, but it plays off his fastball. And lately Hamels seems to have better command of the pitch.

“He throws his fastball and changeup whenever he wants to,” Ryan Garko said. “Either one, on any count.”

“The velocity has definitely improved,” Jimmy Rollins said. “He’s throwing his fastball again, and that is making his changeup better. He’s working ahead. He’s not behind because his fastball is up and away at 88, 89 (mph). He’s throwing it down through the zone at 92. The changeup is following that same plane and it can be at times unhittable. He’ll keep you off balance, too. In and out. The way he’s been doing that lately, he didn’t have that. He tried to come in and it was right down the middle and they weren’t missing. And now he’s got a little angle back, and that helps his confidence.”

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Brett Myers struck out two in a scoreless inning tonight for Triple A Lehigh Valley. The radar gun showed Myers throwing 92 mph, but Tyler Walker pointed out in the Phillies clubhouse that the gun there is slow, so he probably is throwing a couple mph harder than that.

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