Day off helps Phillies’ bullpen

 Posted by at 10:59 am
Sep 112010

Phillies reliever Ryan Madson

September 10 Camden Courier-Post

“It wasn’t the most frustrating thing to happen during the Phillies‘ stretch of 24 games in 23 days, but when manager Charlie Manuel strolled to the mound for one final pitching change Wednesday, it was a bit of a sour note on which to end.

The Phillies finally had a day off Thursday, and it didn’t come a moment too soon for Ryan Madson. He was called on to close out Wednesday night’s 10-6 win over Florida — a game the Phillies‘ recent call-ups allowed to disintegrate from blowout to near miss.

Therein lies the problem for Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee: The back end of the Philliesbullpen is pitching about as well as it has all season, but Madson and company are pitching an awful lot.

“We’ve been in a lot of tight, tight ballgames, so we have worked those guys pretty hard,” Dubee said. “I think (the off day) is going to help us immensely.”

Madson has allowed only two runs since July 31, but he’s already pitched six times this month, and he’s gotten more than one day’s rest between appearances only once in the last month. It’s enough for Manuel to say he’s “very concerned” about Madson’s innings.

Jose Contreras was nearly as hot as Madson — and nearly as overworked. He posted a 0.95 ERA from July 20 through Sept. 5 before giving up three runs in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday. On Contreras, Manuel was succinct when he said, “He’s had a pretty heavy load.”

Then there’s closer Brad Lidge, who took the early part of the week off to rest his sore shoulder. Lidge was perhaps the Phillies‘ hottest reliever, posting a 0.55 ERA since Aug. 1 with 11 saves. He’s expected to be ready for this weekend’s series against the Mets in New York, but after Lidge underwent surgery on the same arm last offseason, there are concerns.

Even in Lidge’s case, Manuel points to a heavy workload as a potential cause of the injury.

“He’s been out there a lot,” Manuel said. “He’s been up quite a bit, and he’s pitched a lot in the games.””

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