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?
Should the Phillies keep Contreras as the closer if he keeps this up?
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?