Tag: Brad Lidge

Washington Nationals: Brad Lidge Gives Davey Johnson Plenty of Relief Options

One of the biggest concerns for the Washington Nationals as spring training reaches its end has been the health of closer Drew Storen. Storen hasn’t pitched in three weeks due to inflammation in his right elbow.

As reported by the Washington Post‘s Adam Kilgore, an MRI exam found no structural damage. But Storen has been told to rest and not throw for at least four days. The Nationals expect him to begin the season on the disabled list.

But the Nationals probably won’t have to worry to much about who will pitch the ninth inning, thanks to a savvy offseason signing by general manager Mike Rizzo. Brad Lidge was brought in as a free agent to give the bullpen depth, but now looks like he’ll be a closer again.

Nats manager Davey Johnson told reporters that Lidge or Henry Rodriguez will close out games in Storen’s absence. Rodriguez and his 100 mph fastball will surely get some save chances, but pitching him in different high-leverage situations throughout a ballgame might be the best use of his talents.

Keeping Tyler Clippard as the setup man, a role in which he excelled last year (1.83 ERA, 104 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings), is probably the smart move.

Like many major league managers, Johnson apparently prefers using players in roles they’re familiar with. Lidge, 35, is definitely accustomed to pitching in the ninth inning, having saved 223 games over a 10-year major league career.

Lidge missed the first half of last season after tearing his rotator cuff. And when he returned, his velocity was way down. That forced him to rely on his slider, which he had trouble locating. Yet by the end of the season, he was looking more like his old dominant self.

But Lidge insists he’s fully healthy now, and throwing better than he did at any point last year.

“There’s nothing prohibiting me from throwing inside or outside, throwing sliders wherever,” he told the Post‘s Kilgore. “I was a little tentative when I came back last year. The way I finished off the year last year, command-wise, I feel like I’m there right now. … If I’m throwing 90 with command of my slider, that’s good. Anything above that is gravy.”

Some observers might wince at Johnson leaning toward Lidge because he’s shown he can pitch the ninth inning. (In fairness, Johnson hasn’t been quoted as actually saying that and apparently wants to see Rodriguez close some games, too.) But using him in that role gives Johnson more flexibility, allowing him to use better relievers in more important situations.

Lidge was already signed at a bargain, agreeing to a one-year, $1 million contract. At that price, he could end up being an absolute steal.

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Brad Lidge: Are the 2012 Nationals His Most Talented Teammates Ever?

I had to laugh when I read this article about Brad Lidge claiming that the 2012 Washington Nationals are the most talented team he has ever played on.


I have absolutely nothing against the Washington Nationals. In fact, if you follow me on Twitter, you might remember that I tweeted a while back that I think that the Washington Nationals will make the playoffs this year. They are talented.

However, Lidge has played on four teams that were arguably more talented than this year’s Washington Nationals. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

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MLB Free Agent Relievers: Brad Lidge and Company Are Overrated

Brad Lidge was signed by the Washington Nationals this week for a million dollars over one season. A bargain compared to what some closers have picked up during this offseason. But did the Nationals make the right move?

The role of closer in Major League Baseball has evolved over the last few years into an elite spot on the roster, worthy of much talk, praise and big, fat contracts. But statistically, and historically, it simply doesn’t make any sense.

Evidence such as this study from 2004 by David W. Smith indicates that teams that have held a lead after eight innings have won their games 95 per cent of the time. This has held true throughout the history of baseball.

In fact, the worst record he could find in a century of numbers was the 1978 Seattle Mariners, who still sealed the deal in the ninth 80.4 percent of the time.

This off-season has seen a bunch of closers moving around and signing significant contracts. The biggest was Jonathan Papelbon signing a four-year, $50 million contract with Philadelphia.

We’ve also seen Ryan Madson sign with Cincinnati for one year, $10 million, Heath Bell sign with Miami for three years, $27 million, and Joe Nathan sign with Texas for $14.5 million over two years.

Overall, I’ve noted 10 closers signed for an average of $7.18 million per year in just this free-agent season alone. 

But given that a typical team will win virtually every game they play where they enter the ninth with a lead no matter who is pitching, this seems like a massive waste of money.

The Jonathan Papelbons, Mariano Riveras and John Axfords of the baseball world are put on a pedestal and worshipped for their prowess at slamming the door at the end of the game. And they are paid accordingly.

But it simply doesn’t matter.

Given that teams carrying the lead into the final inning are almost certainly going to win, regardless of who is on the mound, it makes absolutely no sense for teams to be rolling truckloads of money up to the doors of these guys.

Better to spread the money around to a stable of decent arms in relief and just pick the guy with the most rest.

Getting Lidge for only a million a year is pretty cheap for a proven arm, even if he’s past his prime at age 35. That’s a third of the average MLB salary and for a guy filling a high-profile, but statistically irrelevant role, that’s the right price.

Papelbon’s $12.5 million a year? Not so much.

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Philadelphia Phillies: Does Jose Contreras Deserve Mention as Permanent Closer?

I’ve always been a fan of Jose Contreras. He’s 39 years old, going strong and still throwing nasty splitters.

This season, Brad Lidge was placed on the DL yet again, and the Phillies needed someone to step up in place of him. 

This has happened in the past, and the Phillies usually went with Ryan Madson. However, it was clear that he was not meant to be a closer, as he blew numerous save opportunities.

The Phillies tested Madson already, and it didn’t go as planned. So who did they experiment with this season? Jose Contreras.

Turns out, he performed spectacularly—zero earned runs in seven games and a perfect 4-of-4 in save opportunities.

We are only about a month into baseball season, so you can make the argument that it is too early. But Contreras is off to a hot start, and there’s no doubt about it. 

There is also no question that Contreras has been more than serviceable as a closer. In fact, he is pitching so good that the thought of making him the everyday closer has popped up in discussion (let’s assume for the column’s sake that he remains hot when Lidge comes back).

He is the backup and is doing a great job as stated, but the number one closer, Lidge, is granted his starting job back, right?

Well, not so set and stone if you ask me.

If Contreras keeps this up and remains consistent, how will Charlie Manuel be able to sit someone who is playing so well?

I’m not trying to pick sides here, but just trying to think how Manuel will look at the scenario. In fact, I personally thought that Lidge was going to have a rebound season.

We saw this same situation occur for the Eagles, when Michael Vick was playing very well in substitution for Kevin Kolb. 

Kolb recovered from a concussion, but was not granted his starting job back because Vick was playing too good to have him sit on the bench.

Will the same outcome occur with Phillies?

I think there’s a chance. But to be honest, I’m not quite sure exactly what the Phillies should do here. Sure, Contreras will still be able to pitch, but he has been very effective in the closing role.

The Phillies have some time to think about this considering that Lidge won’t return until late May to early June.

It’s a thought that’s up for an intriguing debate that comes down to one question: Do you sit Contreras, who is hot right now and grant the position back to your original closer, or do you keep in the pitcher who is doing well?

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2011 Fantasy Baseball Closer Report: Back Off the Lidge, It Was Only Opening Day

The weather is getting nicer outside, and Opening Day came and went with six games that each had interesting endings.

We had studs like Mariano Rivera and Heath Bell shutting the door on their opponents, and John Axford and Ryan Franklin looking just a bit shaky.

Let’s take a look at the news we missed in the preseason edition and then dive into Opening Day.


Quick News

Shortly after the preseason edition of this column went live, it was announced that Neftali Feliz will be the closer for the Texas Rangers to begin the season.

The certainty that he is the closer for this team moves him into my top five closers and if you’re drafting this weekend, he’s absolutely worth taking at the right value.

The consensus is that he will be set up by Mark Lowe pitching the eighth and in deep leagues that count holds, he might be worth a look. 

The Phillies shut down Brad Lidge with shoulder pain during the final few days of spring training and they expect him to be out 3-6 weeks. Jose Contreras has been named the fill-in over younger Ryan Madson while Lidge is out.

If Lidge is on your team, hopefully you have gone out and gotten Contreras to fill that hole while Lidge is on the DL.

Previously, there was just speculation about Andrew Bailey and Brian Wilson, but now it is confirmed that both California closers will start this season on the 15-day DL. 

Wilson is eligible to come of the DL April 5 and will likely take over as soon as he gets back to full health; until then, Sergio Romo will likely fill in at the closer role. 

Bailey will also be available on the April 5, but the Athletics may take a little extra time bringing back their young closer, especially with an experienced veteran like Brian Fuentes in the bullpen able to close games.

If you need quick saves for a week, I like Romo more than Fuentes while their counterparts are out.

Finally, Frank Francisco will start the season on the DL for the Blue Jays and Jon Rauch will be the closer to start the year. Rauch is the best option in the bullpen while Francisco is gone and could regain the job if Francisco struggles in his comeback.


Opening Day Games 

In the first game of the day, C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander both went six innings and neither got a decision, leaving the ballgame to their respective bullpens.

Joba Chamberlain pitched a clean top of the seventh and Phil Coke could not do the same in the bottom of the inning, giving the win to Chamberlain.

The Yankees used Rafael Soriano in the eighth and earned a hold and will be a great guy in holds leagues. Mariano Rivera came in and shut the door like he does so well and got his first save of the season.

None of these sentences are particularly surprising and this will likely be consistent for the Yankees, barring any injuries.

Craig Kimbrel got the first shot in the committee in Atlanta and finished the job in a 2-0 win over the Nationals, striking out two in the process. Jonny Venters pitched the eighth and earned a hold, keeping the Nationals hitless.

If you were to draft this weekend and you wanted a Braves closer, I’m leaning harder toward Kimbrel being the better guy for the year, but I still believe it’s a committee. If the Braves go a couple weeks and Kimbrel pitches every time he’s available, then the job is his and Venters owners can go ahead and release him. 

The first blown save of the year belongs to John Axford and his awful mustache of the Brewers as the Reds scored four runs in bottom of the ninth to beat the Brewers 7-6. Takashi Saito pitched an ugly, but scoreless eighth inning and would likely get the first save chance in the bullpen if Axford were to struggle.

I believe Axford has a bit of leash but as a young guy, if he were to blow three in a row, maybe Saito gets the next chance. 

Fernando Rodney closed a two run game against the Royals in the afternoon game, despite giving up a hit and a walk. I have a hard time believing in Rodney coming into the year and the Angels are high on Jordan Walden, but want to ease him into a setup role behind Rodney.

I believe Walden will settle into the eighth inning role and possibly a chance at saves when Rodney is not available.

We got bonus baseball and a second blown save in the win by the Padres over the Cardinals, 5-3. The Padres were helped by a blown save by Ryan Franklin and a poorly timed error by Ryan Theriot.

I’m not worried about Franklin for now, but Jason Motte is the guy in the shadows in case Franklin really struggles. Heath Bell closed the door in the 11th for his first save of the year. 

And finally, as much as I was hoping to get a look at Sergio Romo, the Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 and Jonathan Broxton got the ugly save. Broxton gave up a home run to Pat Burrell, but gave up no other hits and walked none.

Broxton looked slimmed down in appearance in comparison to last year, which may help his stamina. Hong-Chih Kuo got a hold and may be the king of the holds this year just like he was last year.


Written by Jim Dingeman exclusively forwww.thefantasyfix.com

Follow The Fantasy Fix on Twitter @thefantasyfix

or for Free Fantasy Sports Advice use our Quick Fix to get help with your team!


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Brad Lidge Out 3-6 Weeks: Can Jose Contreras Handle the Closer Role?

After receiving an MRI yesterday, it was determined that Brad Lidge’s injury woes will continue: he has a strain in the back of his right shoulder rotator cuff. In other words, according to Courier Post Online, this is equivalent to a tear, and he could even be out until July.

This is far from good news that the Phillies have received throughout this year’s spring training. Domonic Brown broke his hand after ending a hitless streak of over 15 at-bats. Chase Utley is out indefinitely with tendinitis in his right knee. Placido Polanco hyperextended his left elbow, on which he received surgery this offseason. Roy Oswalt suffered a scare when he was hit by a Manny Ramirez line drive.

And now, after returning from bicep tendinitis, Brad Lidge—who was healthy for spring training for the first time in a long time—remains on the list, which at this point seems endless.

With every injury comes a fill-in, and in this case like all others, the Phillies’ closer role is currently vacant.

While the temporary replacement of Brad Lidge has yet to be finalized, manager Charlie Manuel thinks that the role should and will go to Jose Contreras. Ryan Madson was in the running, but Manuel, among others, believes that he will do better in the set-up role for now, where he has consistently pitched well over the past few seasons.

Before we think more on this likely decision, let’s take a look at Contreras’ role with the Phillies last season.

In his first season with the Phillies last year, Contreras also pitched in his first season as a reliever. He made 67 appearances in relief last season, more than any other Phillie. In 56.2 innings of work, Contreras posted a 6-4 record with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He also recorded 13 holds and yes, four saves. He also struck out 57 batters who faced him.

Not bad considering his age (38 last season) and amount of appearances, is it?

Although the closer role is much different than a relieving or even a set-up role, let’s take a look at Brad Lidge’s stats from last season.

Lidge, who spent a long stint on the DL last season, had a record of 1-1 in 50 appearances comprised of 45.2 innings of work. In that amount of work, Lidge posted a 2.96 ERA and struck out 52, posted a 1.23 WHIP and 27 saves.

Take a look at the ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP. These stats between the two are oddly similar. And while innings pitched, record, appearances, and saves are incomparable (due to injury and different roles), the comparable stats are very close to each other. Although ERA is a bit more distant that Ks and WHIP, 38 points isn’t too far off.

So the question now is this: will Jose Contreras be able to handle the temporary role of closer?

There are arguments on both sides. One could argue that he can because he did so well as a reliever and closer last season, and the fact that he was 38 years old shows he’s durable and can continue posting such stats. In fact, both pitchers allowed the same amount of home runs (five), and Contreras actually allowed fewer walks than Lidge in more innings of work—Lidge allowed 24 walks; Contreras allowed only 16.

On the other hand, Contreras only has one season of relief work under his belt and his ERA is a bit too high for a reliever. He could also be drilled this way: there is only one closer on the team, and there are four or five relievers. Relievers can be split up by day and batter; closers must face all batters in the ninth inning in order to record the save.

And then there’s more. Since the rotation will most likely go deep into games—at least seven or eight innings per game—only a reliever or two will be used, and the closer will be used often. If Contreras had to pitch three or four out of five games, would he be able to handle such stress on his arm? Remember that he was a reliever for the first time last season and would be called upon maybe every three days. Starters are called upon every five days. An average closer could be called upon four of five days. That’s a lot of work.

If the cons ultimately outweigh the pros, Ryan Madson could look like a great option. He’s in a contract year and he’s got to deliver. If he shines and Contreras falls, then this might be the golden opportunity for Ryan Madson to nab the closer role and more money for the 2012 season. Madson, who’s been a reliever for most of his career, knows how to handle the eighth (and somewhat the ninth) inning situation through much experience. Could he end up as the Phillies’ closer?

For the meantime, Phillies fans’ minds are wondering whether Contreras is the right decision for the closer role.

Is it the right move?

Only time will tell.

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MLB Fantasy Baseball Digging for Saves: Who Will Replace Brad Lidge?

Brad Lidge is the latest closer to go down with an injury and how long he will be out is completely unknown. The pain in his shoulder has yet to be identified, meaning he could be out a week, a month or maybe more. It was just a few days ago that I questioned if Lidge was even worth owning (click here to view) and now things look even more dubious. 

Obviously, there are two options for the Phillies to turn to, either Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras. The question is, who will it be? Or, will fantasy owners face yet another “closer-by-committee” situation?

According to Todd Zolecki of mlb.com (click here for the article), the latter does not appear to be in the cards. Pitching coach Rick Dubee was quoted as saying, “Guys are more comfortable when they’re slotted into a role. It’s preparation. You know when your time is coming. When you’re grabbing at straws, guys are a little leery about what’s going on. You like to have that back end set up.”

So, knowing that it is likely going to be one or the other, which is the player that fantasy owners should be targeting?

Ryan Madson is clearly the more dynamic pitcher. He has the better stuff and you would think that he should excel closing out games. However, he has never seemed extremely comfortable in the ninth inning. It is a small sample size, but in 2010 he converted just five of 10 save opportunities. Over the past five seasons he has 19 saves in 35 opportunities.

In Zolecki’s article, Dubee is quoted as saying, “He doesn’t get to the same comfort level. There’s a little anxiety there. The ninth inning is a little different than the eighth. There have been solid eighth-inning guys that haven’t been able to pitch the ninth. One day they learn how to do it.”

Contreras, however, thrived in his brief chance as closer in ’10, converting four saves in five opportunities. In his first season in the bullpen he posted a 3.34 ERA and 1.22 WHIP over 56.2 innings of work. That’s not to mention a 9.05 K/9, significantly better than he did while in the starting rotation.

If Friday’s spring game was any indication, you can tell which direction the Phillies are leaning:

Eighth Inning: Ryan Madson allows one hit in an otherwise clean inning as the setup man.

Ninth inning: Jose Contreras is perfect, complete with two strikeouts, picking up the save.

Should we be looking too much into spring strategy? Of course not, but past success clearly is going to factor into the Phillies thinking. Small sample size or not, you can tell by Dubee’s comments that Madson’s past struggles are certainly going to play a role. 

Obviously, to be safe all Lidge owners should be hoping to stash both Contreras and Madson. You really don’t know exactly what is going to happen at this point. However, if push comes to shove, all signs are currently pointing to Contreras getting the first opportunity to close out games. Right now neither appear to be a long-term options, but those looking to steal a few saves early on will want to probably nab Contreras.

What are your thoughts?  Who do you think is going to get the save opportunities? 

Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out our 2011 rankings:

Top 15 Catchers
Top 15 First Basemen

Top 15 Second Basemen

Top 15 Third Basemen

Top 15 Shortstops

Top 30 Outfielders

Top 30 Starting Pitchers

Top 15 Closers


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Brad Lidge to Start Year on DL; Should Phillies Fans Be Worried?

With pain in his right shoulder, closer Brad Lidge will start the 2011 season on the disabled list.  With Lidge’s long history of injuries, this new issue should be a huge red light to the Phillies that Lidge’s time is close to being over.

Lidge was especially concerned with this new injury saying, “I haven’t had shoulder problems in the past.”  Although, Lidge has had surgery on both knees multiple times, elbow surgery, an oblique strain, a strained intercostal muscle and bicep tendinitis, just to name a few.

Still, Lidge entered spring training boasting that he was healthy and felt great.  Exactly when that may have changed is hard to tell.  Lidge is an eternal optimist so what he says should maybe be taken with a grain of salt.

In fact, here is a little help for those who cannot always decipher what Lidge is talking about.

The Brad Lidge Translator

Lidge Says:        I feel great.

Lidge Means:     The pain is unbearable!


Lidge Says:        I am not concerned.

Lidge Means:     I am totally freaking out here!


Lidge Says:        No need to panic.

Lidge Means:     Red alert, red alert…PANIC!!!


Lidge Says:        It is a setback.

Lidge Means:     This is the END of my career!


Lidge Says:       This is disappointing.

Lidge Means:     I am going to crawl into a hole with a vat of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and eat and cry until I vomit.


With Lidge out of the picture, closing duties will fall either to Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras.  While it is good to know the Phillies have options, this does create major issues in the bullpen.  The Phillies failed to re-sign Chad Durbin, which may come back to haunt them as they now have to rely on less experienced arms in the middle innings.

The Lidge injury is magnified when you think about the loss of Chase Utley, Domonic Brown and questions still lingering about Placido Polanco’s elbow.

So, should Phillies fans be worried?  The short answer is, not yet.

The team seems to have back-up for Utley.  Luis Castillo finally got a hit today and also walked twice while showing solid defense in the field.  Wilson Valdez continues to impress as well.

As for Brown, Ben Francisco is doing well in what may have been Brown’s spot in the outfield.  John Mayberry Jr. is also capable and the two may wind up rotating in right field.

Another good sign is that Polanco did play today in the 3-1 victory over the Braves.  Polly looked a bit tentative and was sore after the game, but he expects to play again on Sunday.  Or perhaps, much like Lidge, I am being a tad too optimistic about all this?  I hope not.

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Philadelphia Phillies Cursed? Roy Oswalt, Chase Utley and Domonic Brown Say Yes

The Philadelphia Phillies cured? Say it isn’t so.

But what if that figment of our imagination came true? What if the World Series favorite Philadelphia Phillies were indeed cursed from here on out?

Looking at the way this team is shaping up for the 2011 season, I’d put my money on the Phillies being cursed… here’s why.

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With Brad Lidge Set to Open Season on DL, Opportunity Arises for Ryan Madson

Tell me you haven’t heard this one before: Philadelphia Phillies‘ closer Brad Lidge is likely to spend Opening Day and the 14 days thereafter on the Disabled List.

After several offseasons filled with surgeries and rehabilitation for Lidge, he and the Phillies‘ fan base were overly optimistic of a full, healthy season from the once perfect closer.

Though he had the tell tale signs of an arm injury—most notably the lack of velocity on his fastball—Lidge told the media several times over that he was healthy. As it turns out, he’s not.

The injury came as a bit of a surprise Friday morning, as Lidge had just returned to the mound this week after being sidelined with some tendinitis. No one anticipated the news that he had been dealing with some shoulder soreness—something that he had successfully kept hidden away from the spotlight.

For that reason alone, when Lidge and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed the media this morning, neither were happy to be delivering the news.

Each of the men told the media that Lidge was experiencing some discomfort in the back of his shoulder—a danger zone for pitchers—but although an MRI had not been scheduled as of yet, the soreness was expected to be just that—soreness.

The Phils’ closer doesn’t expect to have any structural damage in his shoulder.

Though the injury was kept quiet by Lidge, he did his best to reassure the club that he wasn’t being purposefully deceptive about it:

“I’m a little concerned because I haven’t had shoulder problems in the past. There was always a little pain in the back (of the shoulder), which we thought was biceps tendinitis. I haven’t had shoulder issues before. At least not for a long time.”

Still, Lidge conceded that shoulder soreness is something he has dealt with in the past, and for a guy who’s dealt with a myriad of injuries in his career, that could be a bit of a concern.

However, as long as there isn’t any structural damage in Lidge’s shoulder, which seems to be the case as of now, both Lidge and Amaro don’t expect the closer to miss an extended period of time.

So, when will Lidge return to the Phillies’ bullpen?

“We don’t think it’s going to be a long-term issue, but it could be,” said Amaro in his usual in his short, vague snippet. If Lidge opens the season on the Disabled List, the team could activate him on April 9 at the earliest.

“This is all part of the game,” said the GM. “Nobody wants injuries, but we’ll deal with them.”

So, how exactly will the Phils’ deal with Lidge’s injury? The obvious first question is who takes the mound in the ninth inning. Over the last couple of seasons, when Lidge has missed games, the closer was without a doubt Ryan Madson. Amaro wasn’t so keen on simply handing him the gig on Friday morning.

When asked who was going to be the closer in the short term, Amaro’s response was another simple, vague answer: “Whoever we think is going to be better.”

Obviously, the chances of Madson not being the closer are incredibly slim, but Jose Contreras has pitched well for the Phillies in every role they’ve assigned him, and if the team isn’t keen on changing everyone’s role, Contreas could be the guy.

Of course, Contreras will get his share of consideration for the job because of Madson’s failure in that role in the past. However, the set-up man is sure that he’s ready to become a closer, especially in his walk-year with the Phillies.

According to Madson, a conversation with his agent, Scott Boras, after he kicked a steel chair and broke his toe last season helped him adjust to a late inning role.

“He said, ‘Tell me what your mentality was when you were closing.’ I was like, I thought I was going to be perfect,” said Madson.

“I really thought I was going to be perfect and not blow one save. Well it doesn’t work that way. You’re putting too much emphasis on every pitch. Then when you blow a save, it carries on and little things happen.”

We all know that closing out ball games is as much mental as it is physical, and Madson certainly has the skill to be a closer. If that conversation with Boras really made a difference, which has yet to be seen, the Phillies may not be looking at their set-up man any longer, but their closer of the future.

As Madson prepares to open the season as the Phils’ closer, we’re left wondering just what Brad Lidge has left in the tank.

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