Thursday, July 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bullpen changes coming?

Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and injuries have turned late-inning relief into the Phillies primary concern. Before tonight's game, manager Charlie Manuel offered cryptic answers when asked how he would handle potential save situations.

Bullpen changes coming?

Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and injuries have turned late-inning relief into the Phillies primary concern. Before tonight's game, manager Charlie Manuel offered cryptic answers when asked how he would handle potential save situations.

He began by repeating the message delivered after Lidge suffered his 11th blown save Wednesday night in Miami, that Lidge and Madson remain the most capable pitchers to succeed in their roles.

 
“Both of those guys, they are our talented guys, as far as stuff-wise and experience-wise. That’s kind of making it tough.”
 
He then appeared to hint that he was considering changes. “But at the same time, we’ve got to do something to try and win games,” Manuel said.
 
An interesting moment came when the manager was asked if he would consider Tyler Walker. Walker has 34 career saves, 25 of which came in 2005, when he was the closer for the San Francisco Giants. 
 
Walker has pitched well as a Phillie as a middle reliever this season.  He lacks a dominant pitch such as Lidge’s slider when effective, or Ryan Madson’s change-up, but he would have a chance to be serviceable. Walker is no one’s idea of an ideal playoff closer, but he may be less risky than the 2009 version of Lidge.
 
Would Manuel consider the righthhander?
 
“He’s done a good job for us in the role that he’s at,” Manuel said, before slowing considerably and appearing to choose his words judiciously. “But I’ll…we’ll do…We’ll do whatever it takes to win a game. That might give you guys something to write about.”
 
That last comment came with a mischievous smile. Am I saying that Walker will get a shot? Not at all. I’m just saying that Manuel’s answer was interesting.
 
He continued: “I’m going to do what I have to do. We’ll see. Whatever I want to do, we’ll do that. And we’ve got to win some games.”
 
Earlier this month, when Lidge failed in a save opportunity in Houston, Manuel appeared to have many interesting options to replace his troubled closer if necessary. Now, injuries have eliminated or severely delayed most of the possibilities. Brett Myers, Chan Ho Park and J.C Romero are all rehabbing.
 
Starters J.A. Happ and Pedro Martinez could also theoretically be considered, though those suggestions were more realistic when both pitchers were healthy. Happ missed two starts with a muscle strain in his side and left a third after three innings, and Martinez is questionable for Saturday’s start with a strained neck.
           
This much I know: If a save situation arises tonight, it will be interesting to see what Manuel does. 

***

Carlos Ruiz has a cortisone injection in his left wrist today, and is headed to Milwaukee.  He will be unavailable for several days.

***

Talked to Chad Durbin about healing from a lat strain, which Myers is trying to do.  Durbin said that the issue affected the movement on his pitches.  "Sink and cut and break--everything was dull," he said.

The good news was that Durbin completely healed in 21 days.  If Myers returns, say, Friday (a reasonable projection given his scheduled bullpen session Tuesday), he will have been out 17 days.  So maybe he can still contribute.

If he and J.C. Romero and Chan Ho Park return, the Phils will have interesting decisions regarding hobbled pitchers and the playoff roster.

"I don't think anyone in our bullpen necessarily deserves to be a slam dunk," to make the roster, Ruben Amaro said.

***

 

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The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer beat writer Matt Gelb and columnist Bob Brookover.

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