Madson sharp in return to closer's role

Phillies pitcher Ryan Madson picked up his first save since June 12. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

It was just like old times on Friday night. Ryan Madson took the ball from Cole Hamels in the ninth: grounder to second base, grounder to second base, and a flyout.

One-two-three. Eight pitches. Easy as that and a 3-1 lead over the Padres was safe and sound. And Madson picked up his 16th save of the season.

“I feel good,” Madson said before Saturday’s game against the Padres. “I feel normal. Just another day at the office.”

With the way Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes have been pitching in Madson’s and Brad Lidge’s absences, the nearly 40 days between Madson’s 15th and 16th saves seem like an eternity.

That was plenty of time for Bastardo to establish himself — since Madson last pitched on June 18, before going on the DL with a right-hand contusion, in nine appearances, Bastardo has picked up five saves, struck out 11 and has allowed just one run. He has allowed just four runs all season, and has more strikeouts that innings pitched. It’s safe to say, the 25-year-old lefty sporting a 0.99 ERA has been rock solid.

Madson was working his way back, having come off the DL, making his debut on July 15. But Bastardo was still closing. 

That is, until Friday night.

“We’re just out there throwing right now,” Madson said before Saturday’s game. “I don’t think anybody has a role right now. We’re just kind of pitching.”

“I was excited this spring, seeing [Bastardo and Stutes] throwing, looking as good as they were. And they continued it into this season. It’s no surprise to me. I thought that they’d be this good and I’m just glad they’ve played as well as they can.”

The youth of Stutes and Bastardo is complementing Madson’s experience as a set-up man and this season’s closer. And Lidge was just activated off the DL too.

“When he comes back, with his slider, that’s all he needs, Madson said of Lidge. “I guess he’s feeling good. I’m anxious to see him get out there, it’s been awhile.”

Now the Phillies have three relievers with experience as closers. 

“I think I can be trusted as a closer. And so can anybody else, really, out there,” Madson said. “It’s just the matter of getting the opportunities. And that’s all you can ask for.”

--Tim Rohan

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