Results tagged ‘ closer ’
Pete Mackanin revealed plans for a few of his players hours before Opening Day today at Great American Ball Park.
- Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz were in the starting lineup and they are expected to be in the lineup next Monday against the Padres in the home opener at Citizens Bank Park. Howard and Ruiz are in the final seasons of their contracts and they are not expected to return next season. “I wanted to make sure that Chooch started Opening Day and the same thing with Ryan,” Mackanin said. “We’ll just go from there. I’d like them to start, if possible, on Opening Day at home, and I’ll try to do that for sentimental reasons.”
- Mackanin declined to name a closer. “I’m thinking about it as we speak,” he said, asked who will pitch Monday if the Phillies have a ninth inning lead. Mackanin and pitching coach Bob McClure had a meeting yesterday with the bullpen. They discussed the possibilities for the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. “There’s going to be a mix of a lot of different guys,” Mackanin said. “We’ll just see how it plays out. Eventually somebody will be that last pitcher. It’s almost like an audition. It might be any one of five guys that will end up as our closer. And if not we’ll close by committee, even though I don’t want to do that. If that’s what we have to work with that’s what we’re going to do.”
- Cameron Rupp will get the bulk of playing time behind the plate, which is not a surprise. “Chooch is moving up in age,” Mackanin said. “He’s still capable. I think if we keep him healthy and he plays less I think we’re going to get more out of him.”
- Cedric Hunter will start in left field today. He entered Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, but impressed the coaching staff with the quality of his plate appearances. Mackanin said Hunter and Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Goeddel will start the season as a platoon in left field.
- “We’ll give Goeddel a chance, even though he didn’t have that good of a spring,” Mackanin said. “He showed a few things that I think he’s going to be OK. We’ll work it in to start the season and we’ll go from there.”
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It has been a question worth asking. Papelbon needs to finish only 48 games this season to automatically vest a $13 million club option for 2016. That should be a cinch, if he is healthy and continues to close. Papelbon has finished no fewer than 52 games each of the previous eight seasons, and has averaged 56.4 games finished in that span.
The option is noteworthy because the Phillies have had problems trying to trade Papelbon because of his salary. He makes $13 million this season, plus the potential for $13 million more in 2016.
Teams do not want to pay that much for a closer.
Many have wondered if the Phillies could simply demote Papelbon for Ken Giles, who had an impressive rookie season last year. The Phillies could say Giles is getting the job as part of a youth movement, which would scuttle Papelbon’s chances at the option.
That would make him more desirable in a trade.
Papelbon said he would be surprised if the Phillies approached him during the season and said they planned to make Giles the closer.
“I think that they know my stance on closing,” he said. “That’s what I am. I’m a closer. I think if the team decides to go that route, then so be it. Then they go that route. I’ll continue my route with this Major League career that I’ve had and move on.”
But again, the Phillies have said that is not happening as long as Papelbon is performing. He has posted 106 saves (seventh-most in baseball) and a 2.45 ERA (16th out of 137 qualifying relievers) in his three seasons in Philadelphia. If the Phillies suddenly pull him despite pitching well, he very well could file a grievance with the Players’ Union.
He’s 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA and seven saves in seven opportunities. He has allowed 10 hits, one run, seven walks (three intentional walks) and has struck out 22 in 17 innings. Opponents have hit .167 against him.
He’s done the job.
So what happens if Jose Contreras comes back next week?
So what happens if Brad Lidge comes back next month?
Contreras went 0-0 with a 0.00 ERA and five saves in five opportunities before he went on the DL. He allowed four hits, four walks and struck out nine in eight innings. Lidge hasn’t pitched since last season, but went 0-0 with a 0.73 ERA and 17 saves in 18 opportunities from Aug. 1 through the end of the regular season.
The Phillies would be incredibly fortunate to have Lidge, Madson and Contreras healthy and pitching effectively at the same time. But even if the planets align perfectly I think it’d be hard to move Madson from the ninth inning. Contreras did a fine job early, but Madson has been overpowering. And it will have been roughly eight months since Lidge last threw a pitch in a big-league game, if he returns next month. I’m not sure the Phillies want to just drop him back into the ninth inning.
“It will be a tough decision, but I think it’ll work itself out,” Charlie Manuel said. “I think when [Madson is] pitching like that, he kind of makes it tough right now to move him. What would be the point?”