There is no doubt that the Philadelphia Phillies have a closer problem, and if they want to be a contender for the world series or even the division they are going to need a decent closer. Brad Lidge blew 11 saves last year and struggled with elbow soreness after one save. Ryan Madson is on the DL with a broken toe after kicking a chair after one of his two blown saves already. Jose Contreras never saved a game in his career. The two time defending NL champs may have to start to look somewhere else for a solution.
For example, they could look for a good closer stuck on a poor team such as David Aardsma of the Seattle Mariners, who converted 38 out of 42 save opportunities last year and is 8 out of 10 so far this year. However, Aardsma has had only one successful season as a closer and has only 46 career saves. This may not be the best option for the Phillies if they want to win. Plus, Aardsma has never taken the ball in the ninth inning of a playoff game or any game of true importance.
Joakim Soria is single handedly keeping the Kansas City Royals bullpen together and would fit very well as the Phillies closer. For example Soria has only one more blown save (12) in his four year career than Brad Lidge had all of last season. Soria has a career ERA at 2.21 and has had more than one solid year as closer in the majors (42 saves in 2008, 30 in 2009). Soria is also 8 out of 10 this year and would thrive in a bullpen that could give him a lead to hold in the ninth inning.
The Phillies could also think about an in house solution that is a better option than Contreras like Sergio Escalona in Reading (AA). Escalona has saved 5 games this year and has a 2.92 ERA. Escalona also saved 12 games last year and pitched briefly in the Majors.
Scott Mathieson is a hard throwing right hander from Vancouver,BC and has saved 5 game in AAA Lehigh Valley. Mathieson underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2006 but is slowly coming back to shape. Mathieson has allowed only one run in 16.2 innings this season and could be up to the Major League as soon as Jose Contreras fails to get the job done. However, the thought of an injury ridden rookie taking the ninth inning of a playoff is not an idea Manager Charlie Manuel is going to want to go with.
The Phillies have a team that has already shown they are capable to go deep into the playoffs without a closer. If they can make Contreras or another in house solution such as Escalona or Mathieson work and not have to sacrifice any players to get a closer from another team, they will be the best team in baseball.
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