It was the last thing the Phillies bullpen needed, but they may have gotten it anyway in the seventh inning last night: after throwing a pitch that resulted in the final out of the frame, Chan Ho Park grabbed his hamstring and limped off the field.
Manager Charlie Manuel said after the Phillies' 6-1 win that Park, who said he felt the hamstring "pop", could be out for a significant stretch of time.
"He's probably going to down awhile," Manuel said.
Asked if the injury could jeopardize Park's availability for the playoffs, Manuel said "I don't know, we'll probably know more about it tomorrow. But yeah, he's out for ahwhile. I'm very concerned about him, because he pulled it pretty good."
Park has been a vital cog in the Phillies bullpen, going 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .231 average since losing his spot in the rotation in May.
Just a quick analysis:
If Park is down for an extended period of time, it could jeopardize the Phillies current closer-by-committee approach. Brett Myers can pitch multiple innings and brings a similar skill set to the table as Park. But if he is needed in the sixth or seventh innings, he might not be available to pitch the eighth. Lefthander J.C. Romero said today that he was thrilled with how he pitched in his bullpen session, and that he plans on being back with the team within the next week to 10 days. But even he admitted that he probably won't be throwing in the low-to-mid-90's, so the Phillies can't count on him being able to resume the eighth-inning duties that he once shared with Madson.
Manuel said after the game today that he was planning on using Lidge as closer today. That is interesting because the Nationals are the team that spelled the temporary end of his job as closer, loading the bases with one out on Sept. 8 and causing Manuel to switch to Madson.
But Park going down could change Myers' role, which would in turn change Madson and Lidge's role. The Phillies have plenty of right-handed options -- Tyler Walker and Clay Condrey have both shown the ability at times this season to shut down the seventh inning of a tight game.
Regardless, if Park is sidelined for a long stretch, the ripples will be felt throughout a bullpen that has been in flux all season.
Stay tuned, we should know more tomorrow.