Seeing Jose Contreras getting a day off on Friday was not surprising. He is 39 years old and had appeared in four games in five days. According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (click here for the article), he had thrown 72 pitches over that stretch. 

He certainly deserved a rest, but is that why he was also not used on Saturday when a save opportunity presented itself once again? Gelb has a quote from manager Charlie Manuel saying, “He’ll be ready to pitch [Sunday].” He also said that Contreras “is OK.”

Now, fantasy owners are left wondering what is going to happen. Ryan Madson certainly has the better pure stuff, but his struggles in the closer’s role in the past led to him being overlooked for the role with Brad Lidge out of action. All he’s done over the past two days is allow one H and zero BB, striking out one, in 2.0 innings of work to lock down two saves.

Could he now start to see a few opportunities? His 1.00 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, along with 10 K, over 9.0 innings of work would certainly justify such a move.

However, what has Contreras done to lose his job? All he has done is post a 0.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, along with nine K, in 8.0 innings to convert five saves.

Are we going to move to a committee situation? Will the matchups dictate who is going to be used? Will one stumble by either pitcher lead to the other getting the next opportunity?

It’s hard to imagine Contreras losing the job, considering that he has done nothing but excel in the role thus far. However, the Phillies may want to see if Madson, 30 years old, has finally matured to the point that he could handle ninth inning duties. 

It is no secret that Brad Lidge is no lock as a closer and, with his contract expiring after 2011 (the team does hold a $12.5 million option that is unlikely to be picked up), the team needs to know if Madson can handle the job in 2012 (though he is also a free agent after the year) or if they need to import another option. Madson will likely command far less than someone like Heath Bell or Jonathan Papelbon.

How this will play out, no one knows, but it has become a difficult situation for fantasy owners. Both Contreras and Madson should be owned in all formats, but unless your league values middle relievers or if you are desperate for saves, both should be on your bench. In a perfect world, if you owned one you would also own the other, but we all know that’s not always possible. Given Madson’s history, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him stumble, but right now he certainly is in a groove.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Who do you think deserves the job? Who do you think will be the closer?

Make sure to check out the Rotoprofessor Closer Tracker (updated on April 24) by clicking here.


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