Mar 262011
Phillies reliever Ryan Madson

Can Ryan Madson finally prove he can close?

By Justin Adkins:

The Phillies have put the finishing touches on a bullpen they likely hope the Four Horsemen will prevent them from really needing.

Today the team optioned relievers Scott Mathieson and the hefty lefty Mike Zagurski back to the minors, so aside from a trade,  free agent signing, or waiver-wire claim, the 2011 bullpen appears as set as can be right now. 

Mathieson is a great comeback story that is looking more and more likely will never be told, and if Zagurski wants to be a major leaguer he should maybe aspire to looking like Roy Halladay as opposed to Joe Blanton.

Here’s how the bullpen shakes out (for now):

RHP Ryan Madson
RHP Jose Contreras
LHP J.C. Romero
RHP Danys Baez
LHP Antonio Bastardo
RHP David Herndon
RHP Kyle Kendrick

Obviously the glaring omission at the top is closer Brad Lidge, who is starting the season (again) on the disabled list, this time due to shoulder pain and/or biceps tendonitis.  It’s an injury concern that could linger, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see some type of move made, though nothing spectacular based on the Phillies budget issues.

The scariest part of the Lidge injury is that Contreras will likely set up Madson closing, possibly putting Danys Baez into the seventh inning role as opposed to mop-up duty.  There really isn’t another option right now — Romero and Bastardo are the lefty specialists, and Herndon is probably scarier than Baez.

The wild card is Kendrick, former starter and all around question mark.  As a starter he was looking destined for a relief role, at best.  In this case, he’s bumped to the pen due to the coming of the Horsemen as opposed to horrible in-season performance, so hopefully his confidence will hold up. 

Either way, the real hope is that these guys get splintered most of the season, with Madson finally figuring out what it takes to allow his dominant stuff to close the door.

UPDATE:  Per Ryan Lawrence, Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee says bullpen is not set, so who knows what’s coming.

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