But yesterday, as Ryan Madson found himself in a Los Angeles hospital for the birth of his son, Lidge got that chance. And after the only 1-2-3 inning of the game for the Phils, Lidge had once again completed a save.
During Lidge’s absence, the Phillies have had three different closer candidates in Madson, Jose Contreras and Antonio Bastardo, all of whom stepped into the role effectively. Contreras is out for an unknown amount of time with an elbow injury, but both Madson and Bastardo continue their dominance in the latter half of the bullpen.
The question now arises, however, of where Lidge falls into this jumbled Phillies pen. Bastardo is the up-and-coming left-hander who continues to stifle hitters with his young, electric talent. In 42.1 innings pitched this year, Bastardo maintains an ERA just under 1.50 with 50 strikeouts.
Madson, who has previously struggled in the closer role during Lidge’s previous DL stints, has thrived in it this year, with an ERA of 1.86 and 19 saves (and unlike last year, no self-inflicted broken toe injuries).
Boasting the best record in the league, the Phils have a lot of room to experiment with Lidge’s place in the pen. But a question arises in whether or not they should even bother. If Bastardo and Madson continue their dominance, why fix what isn’t broken?
However, if Lidge, who has not been in a non-closer role in nearly a decade, continues to comeback strong from his injury, Charlie Manuel will find himself with three potential closers, one of whom led him to a World Series title.
On the surface, this is more of a luxury than a problem. But what happens if Madson or Bastardo struggles at some point in their respective current roles? Where does Lidge fit into the equation then?
Manuel has always shown his loyalty to Lidge, sticking with him even during the atrocity that was his 2009 season. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Lidge slip back into the role one last time, before presumably parting ways with the team at the end of the season.
It remains to be seen what will ultimately result from this Phillies bullpen, though one thing is certain. It will be very interesting to see, come October, who will be on that mound closing out the ninth.