A change at closer needs to Happ-en

by Eric Schwartz A change at closer needs to Happ-en thumbnail

When I got in my car this evening following Brad Lidge’s 11th blown save of the season I knew I would hear some pretty upset Phillies fans when I flipped on 610 WIP.

The first thing I heard surprised me. It was suggestion that J.A. Happ should be the Phillies closer going forward.

With just two weeks left in the season this move seemed ridiculous. Happ has never closed and wouldn’t have much time to settle into the role.

It just didn’t seem like a reasonable option.

Forty minutes later when I got out of my car I was convinced: Happ taking over the closers role is the right move to make.

At this point it seems all but certain that the Phillies will go with a rotation of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Joe Blanton and Pedro Martinez in the playoffs. That means Happ will be in the bullpen. If he is going to be in there anyway the Phillies might as well use him where they need help the most.

Brad Lidge simply can’t close moving forward. Charlie Manuel has given him every chance to show he can turn the clock back to 2008, but it hasn’t happened. Lidge threw a few good sliders Wednesday night but when it counted the most his pitches were flat. Even after Lidge blew the save he had a chance to get his team into extra innings. With two outs Lidge had pinch hitter Brett Carroll in a 0-2 hole. He then put the ball on a tee and Carroll hit a line drive u the middle that scored the game-winning run and dropped Lidge to 0-8 this season.

We don’t know if Happ can close, but we don’t know he can’t either.

We do know that this season Lidge can’t. We also know that Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre and Can Ho Park have all blow saves when given the opportunity.

Happ has shown an ability to get left-handers (.208 against) and right-handers (.245 against him) out and has shown the ability to handle pressure (beat the Yankees in the new Yankee Stadium in his 2009 debut).

The Phillies have the luxury of having six quality starters and this is a time to make that pay off. Let Moyer slide in to Happ’s rotation spot for the final two weeks and see if Happ can handle closing. Happ will need to get used to coming out of the pen anyway if he is out in the playoff rotation, so why not give it a try?

Others have suggested the Phils give Pedro a try, but I don’t see that as a realistic option. Pedro has a history of struggling in the first inning and likely wouldn’t be able to pitch in back-to-back games with his age.  

That brings us back to Happ.

At this point, why not?

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6 Responses to “A change at closer needs to Happ-en”

  1. BigGreek24 on September 24th, 2009 9:01 am

    I don’t see Charlie putting Happ in that situation, especially since he has never closed at any level. He has success as a middle reliever, and as we see with Madsen there is a huge difference between pitching in the middle of the game and trying to get those last three outs – especially in October. I’ve tried to remain hopeful but as I’ve written before this is the number 1 problem in my mind for the Phillies.

  2. Eric Schwartz on September 24th, 2009 2:19 pm

    Right now even a guy with no experience is a better choice than Lidge. The Phillies have five pitchers they can trust right ow and they are all in the rotation. The guy not in the postseason rotation should be the closer. Rolliong the dice with a starter is better than rolling the dice with Lidge.

  3. Doug on September 24th, 2009 2:41 pm

    ok ok ok it’s settled… I’ll be the closer just for one game. Then I’ll be able to pay off my student loans.

  4. BigGreek24 on September 24th, 2009 9:26 pm

    Not if the results are the same. If this were Strat-O-Matic baseball I’d agree with you 100%, but its not. I was listening to Jody Mac and Rob Dibble on XM this afternoon, and Dibble also said that you can’t just put a guy like Happ into the closer’s role because it takes someone with a special mentality to get those last three outs of the game. If you’re expecting Happ to be a starter going forward you can’t put him into the pressure of closing playoff games with nothing more than a two week audition. Unfortunately it looks like they are going to have to try to use Madson and Lidge in tandem unless Myers gets healthy quick. I’m not liking this at all.

  5. Jersey Joe on September 25th, 2009 3:01 pm

    Good idea. How about. Pedro with his go get attude. Happ has proed again last night that he should be in the staring rotation. Chirley is goin to stick with who has gotten him there and is now looking at Tyler Walker. Please! You have got to be kidding me.

  6. BigGreek24 on September 25th, 2009 3:19 pm

    Walker does have some closing experience, but I don’t think he is the answer, either. They may just have to continue the Lidge/Madsen thing and hope that one of them gets hot at the right time. Otherwise its going to cost them another shot at a title.

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