Have the Philadelphia Phillies Already Found Their Closer?

May 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

In the last two years, the Phillies closer role has been filled by “a veritable who’s who of incompetent puppets,” as said by Dr. Kelso from ABC’s television show Scrubs.

In 2009, Brad Lidge did almost everything in his power to warrant a demotion from the closer’s role, if not from the major league roster in general. Blowing an almost mind-numbing 11 saves, as well as posting a 5.45 FIP, he was clearly earning the loser portion of closer. 

His gallant replacement was set-up man Ryan Madson. His pitching featured a simmering high 90’s fastball and disappearing change-up. He spelled Lidge on occasion, but unfortunately managed to muster an equally poor six blown saves. Despite that ugly number, Madson was mostly a victim of bad luck as his 3.23 FIP shows.

Regardless, to say the Phillies closer has been a weak spot would be an understatement.

Coming into 2010, Lidge was on the DL after multiple offseason surgeries, Madson was the stand-in closer, and Jose Contreras was a 38-year-old former starting pitcher that had suffered a disappointing 2009 campaign. The Phillies had taken a one-year flier on in an attempt to add some middle relief depth.

What a drastic role-reversal a couple of months can create. 

Now, in mid-May, after a brief and relatively successful return, Lidge is back on the disabled list, Madson ended up on the wrong side of a fight against a folding chair, and Jose Contreras—yes, that Jose Contreras—has emerged as the Phillies’ most successful and dominant reliever. 

Contreras’s rise has been quite extraordinary. He went through spring training with some bad statistics and some ugly outings. He looked like he was somehow going to turn the Phillies’ very small investment into a bad deal.

But somewhere between Spring Training and the regular season, Contreras managed to figure something out. 

At this point in the season, albeit early season, Contreras owns a magnificent 9.0 K/BB rate and 1.82 FIP. 

He is striking out batters at an alarming rate with a filthy mix of mid-90’s splitters and nasty sliders. Even more importantly, he has maintained some outstanding control with a very respectable BB/9 rate of 1.35.

So as of right now, the Phillies bullpen is not acting like the hole that would sink the Phillies ship that many expected it to be. Even more importantly, even in the absence of Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson, the Phillies closer role looks to be in decidedly good hands.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

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