Results tagged ‘ Ryan Madson ’

Manuel Drops Hints about the Bullpen

Thumbnail image for happ 0720.jpgIt seems likely the Phillies take 13 position players and 12 pitchers into the postseason.

If there are just 13 position players they will be catchers Carlos Ruiz and Paul Bako; infielders Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Pedro Feliz, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett; and outfielders Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco and Matt Stairs.

The pitching staff is not nearly as easy to call, but Charlie Manuel dropped a few hints today.

Expect left-handers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee and right-hander Joe Blanton to be in the rotation. No surprise there. The fourth starter will be left-hander J.A. Happ or right-hander Pedro Martinez. Happ is 12-4 with a 2.85 ERA, while Martinez is 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA. Happ deserves to start, but the Phillies are short in the bullpen with injuries to left-handers J.C. Romero and Jamie Moyer and right-hander Chan Ho Park. Manuel said they could use Happ in the bullpen early in the NLDS, but still have him start if he only throws an inning in those first couple games.

“I’m not saying we’re going to do that, but that does enter my mind,” Manuel said.

That would leave 10 pitchers competing for seven remaining bullpen spots: Antonio Bastardo, Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, Sergio Escalona, Scott Eyre, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Brett Myers and Tyler Walker. Bastardo got recalled today, and he’s not here for the heck of it. He could make a good enough impression today or tomorrow to work his way onto the postseason roster, despite not pitching since June 25. (That shows just how shaky the bullpen is.)

Eyre and Myers both have battled injuries this month, but Manuel sounded like if they finish the season healthy they will be on the postseason roster.

“I think Scott Eyre definitely could pitch on lefties,” Manuel said. “I think Brett Myers has all the experience in the world. If he can go, I think he can help us in the bullpen because he’s done that.”

Is the closer Madson or Lidge?

“You’ve got Madson and you’ve got Brad,” Manuel said. “I’ve heard people talk. I’ve heard people say instead of using Brad use somebody else. But who else out there would you want on the mound if you were going to win or lose a game? Who would you want? Take your pick. I always get back to Lidge. I’ve got Madson and Lidge in there. Madson probably would be the guy I would go to today to win the game. But there’s going to come a point where Lidge is going to have to pitch and do the job.”

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The Phillies have clinched home-field advantage in the NLDS with St. Louis losing today to the Brewers.

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The Magic Number Is Three

phils 0927.jpgHad the Phillies lost today in Milwaukee, they still would have had a four-game lead in the National League East with seven games to play.

But they really needed to beat the Brewers at Miller Park. Like I wrote earlier today, it would be to their benefit to get hot before the postseason.

“I would say as bad as we played, we played .500 (on the 10-game road trip) didn’t we?” Charlie Manuel said. “As bad as we played … is that accepted? It will have to be, I guess.”

The Phillies will not say the NL East is won, but they need to win just three more games to clinch. Even if they finish 2-5, the Braves would need to go 7-0 to force a one-game playoff, which would be played at Turner Field. A five-game lead with seven to play is almost insurmountable.

Consider the following in two of the greatest collapses in baseball history:

  • The Phillies trailed the New York Mets by just 1 ½ games with seven games to play in 2007. They finished 4-3 and the Mets finished 2-6 as the Phillies won their first National League East championship since 1993.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals trailed the Phillies by 1 ½ games with seven games to play in 1964. They finished 5-2 while the Phillies finished 2-4 as the Phillies blew a 6 ½ game lead with 12 games to play.

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Ryan Madson is 5-5 with a 3.27 ERA and nine saves in 15 opportunities. Because Brad Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.51 ERA and a Major League-leading 11 saves and because Madson looked very good today, I would expect him to continue to close.

“Lidge will get back to where he was. I’m a firm believer in that,” Manuel said. “I don’t want to shoot Lidge. I think he’ll be back to where he was at really. Seriously. But I think right now just from a mental aspect and everything – physical and mental – he needs a little break.”

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Scott Eyre just wants the opportunity to pitch.

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It was rookie hazing day Sunday. John Mayberry Jr. and Sergio Escalona wore lady pilot costumes, while J.A. Happ wore a Superwoman contume. No, I don’t have any pictures. I think they would have wrestled me to the ground and stomped on my cell phone had I taken one.

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If Lidge Is Out, Who's In?



Thumbnail image for lidge knee.jpgCharlie Manuel
said yesterday he is prepared and willing to do whatever it takes to win games. Reading between the lines he meant Brad Lidge no longer is the team’s only option to close.

Ruben Amaro Jr. echoed those sentiments today.

Their words proved true a couple hours later when Lidge trotted to the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Brewers beating the Phillies, 7-2.

“Our best club is to have Lidge pitch the ninth,” Amaro said. “Right now, he hasn’t been doing it effectively, and we’ll have to make an adjustment off that. … No decision has been made officially. Charlie is going to bring people in to pitch in the seventh, eighth and ninth inning that he feels will be most effective. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Lidge isn’t one of those guys. He still could be one of those guys. It could be (Ryan) Madson. It could be Lidge. It could be a host of guys. Obviously it will be different if we get some of the other guys back.”

Amaro said if J.C. Romero throws well tomorrow in Clearwater that he could be activated early next week. He said Chan Ho Park is throwing off the mound tomorrow. Park is “progressing pretty well.” Brett Myers could be back late next week.

“Hopefully we’ll have some choices for Charlie,” Amaro said.

Pedro Martinez does not appear to be one of those choices.

“Right now I don’t see that happening,” Amaro said. “Could it change? Maybe. Right now I think we view him as a starter for us. He’s been effective in that role.”

But while Martinez likely is not an option — Martinez takes a while to get loose, which would not be ideal for a late-inning reliever who needs to warm up quickly – J.A. Happ could be.

“I think he’s durable and right now he’s healthy,” Amaro said. “He’s got a durable arm. We had him in the bullpen last year so it won’t be anything new to him. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that he is a guy we use in the bullpen. That would be up to Charlie and (pitching coach Rich) Dubee if they think he can do it. He hasn’t done anything to say he can’t. You don’t know until he gets in that situation.

“As I said before, it may take some guys to step up and pitch in different roles they’re not typically accustomed to. And Brad may be asked to do something different than he’s been doing for us. Again, at the end of the day it’s about how we can get the last six or nine outs. … We’d rather have the seventh, eighth and ninth locked up like we have in the past, but this isn’t a perfect world unfortunately.”

Asked about his confidence in Lidge, Amaro said, “I’m confident that he’s had the experience of doing it. He has not performed the way I think he knows he can perform and the way we know he can perform. He’ll show us how confident we are in him.”

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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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Madson Blows Save in the Ninth

madson 0912.jpgLike Big Daddy Kane said, closin’ ain’t easy.

The Phillies went 79-0 when leading after eight innings last season, an incredible run highlighted by an incredible season from closer Brad Lidge. But they are 67-9 when leading after eight innings this season, which could cost them home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Their latest ninth-inning collapse came tonight when Ryan Madson blew his sixth save of the season – fourth as a closer — in a 10-9 loss to the Mets at Citizens Bank Park.

Lidge leads the Majors with 10 blown saves.

Madson, who is 1-3 with a 7.82 ERA and seven saves in 13 save opportunities this season, is tied for third with six.

The Phillies blew 15 saves last season, which ranked 28th in baseball. They have 21 this season. Their 64.4 save percentage is their worst mark since 2005, when they had a 63.6 save percentage.

How many is too many? Twenty-one blown saves are a lot, but the 2007 Colorado Rockies hold the Major League record for a playoff team with 29 blown saves.

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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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Lidge's New Role

Brad Lidge‘s role in the Phillies bullpen has changed, but how that role works remains to be seen.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said before tonight’s game against the Nationals that to get Lidge right he plans to pitch him in low stress situations – the Phillies leading or trailing by a few runs – with the possibility to close on occasion. But he also wondered how often those situations will present themselves. Only four of the Phillies’ previous 25 games have been decided by five runs or more.

“I don’t see us using him in the seventh or eighth inning,” Manuel said. “I look at him as a closer. That’s kind of where he fits. I see him pitching once he needs work. If we’re behind in the game or we’re ahead or something by a good margin we’ll get him to make sure he pitches live in the game. He needs to get work where he can command his pitches and he feels good about himself. I agree that he needs work like that. That’s kind of what he wants. I don’t know how much work like that from here to the end of the season we can get him.”

Could he still close this season?

“He could close,” Manuel said. “He hasn’t lost nothing. I’m telling you right now, he definitely can still close. I see where he could be our everyday closer again. Yeah, of course.”

Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee met with Lidge after last night’s 6-5 victory, when Ryan Madson picked up his second save in as many nights. Manuel pulled Lidge from a save situation Tuesday after he loaded the bases with one out, allowing a single, walking a batter, hitting a batter and throwing a wild pitch.

It sounds like Madson and possibly Brett Myers will be pitching in most save situations until the Phillies deem Lidge fit to return, but Manuel is not going to name Madson or Myers the team’s closer for the foreseeable future, perhaps because he wants to make it clear to Lidge that he can get back his job.

Lidge said he is OK with Manuel’s plans.

“It’s real simple,” Lidge said. “Just get me work to get me where I need to be. That’s about it. I told him, ‘Listen, whatever you need to do, I’ll be ready to take the ball at any time.’ I told him it doesn’t need to be a save situation.’ Obviously, I’m ready to throw in those. But if we’re up by six runs, down by six runs, I feel like I’m very close to where I need to be, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a couple more outings. We’re on the same page with everything and we had a good talk.”

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Left-hander Scott Eyre received a MRI exam today in Philadelphia. It revelaed a “loose body” in his left elbow, which has been causing his “quick and sharp” pain when he throws. Because Eyre had dye injected into his arm, the Phillies said he will not be able to pitch for a few days. “Obviously, we’re considering different courses of treatment at this point,” Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. “He will be unavailable for the next few days.” Proefrock said the Phillies there is a remedy that would allow Eyre to pitch again this season. “We have not made a decision on how to proceed at this point,” Proefrock said. Eyre is 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 39 appearances this season. … Left-hander J.C. Romero (strained left forearm) and right-hander Clay Condrey (strained right oblique) continue to workout in Philadelphia, but there are no updates on their timetables to return.

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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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