Ryan Madson took a lot of heat for giving a victory away to the Braves Tuesday night. After Kyle Kendrick pitched eight scoreless innings, Charlie Manuel brought in the man he calls "MY CLOSER" to pitch the ninth inning. Gee, I remember last year when Charlie called Brad Lidge "MY CLOSER". Game after game was given away to the Phillies' opponents. Bad things happened to Lidge last year and bad things also happened to Madson when he filled in that ninth-inning role. Tuesday night Madson could not locate his pitches. He walked Chipper Jones and the pitches were NOT close to crossing the plate. That was a tell-tale sign that he was not on. He then seemed to try and rely on fastballs (instead of changeups) and he kept putting them in the middle of the plate. In a blink of an eye the Braves hit 2 home runs and the game was tied. Then Charlie brought in Jose Contreras to pitch the tenth, and he promptly grooved one that was belted for yet another homer to win the game for the Braves. People said Madson has a mental block about being a "Closer". Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. I don't know about his psychological workings and neither does Charlie Manuel. I like Madson, and I think he is a talented pitcher. But he is HUMAN, like all of us. Somedays he's at his best, and somedays he's not.
I blame Charlie Manuel for blowing Tuesday's game against the Braves. Why? Because he mindlessly follows a pitching theory that will not work for the Phillies (and several other teams).
The Phillie bullpen's recent failures once again illustrate the fallacy of today's pitching theories. Charlie Manuel (and many other Managers) want to have someone who specializes in "long relief" (early to mid-innings), a "set up man" (who's only allowed to pitch in the 8th inning), and a so-called "CLOSER" (who pitches the last inning of the game, but only when his team leads by 3 runs or less). These theories are horse feathers! Specializing a pitcher's role does NOT give him more talent! IF a team is lucky enough to have an ABSOLUTE SUPERSTAR in their bullpen (the best one is Rivera of the N.Y. Yankees) maybe it makes some sense to designate him to pitch the last inning of the game. But Philadelphia does NOT have any SUPERSTARS in their bullpen just now. So following the Closer theory is causing the Phils to lose games they should have won! I say this: If the man on the mound in the eighth inning is getting hitters out, let him at least START the ninth inning! If he loses his stuff and is no longer effective, OK, yank him. But Kyle Kendrick was pitching a shutout for 8 innings and wasn't complaining about being tired or having a sore arm. He should have been given the opportunity to pitch the 9th inning Tuesday night. Last night, Charlie Manuel did allow Halladay to pitch the 9th (Thank God!) or the Phillies' bullpen may have blown yet ANOTHER lead!
All pitchers are human - meaning that on some days they will have great stuff and great motivation, and on other days they won't. The Manager can't assume a pitcher will always perform at a given level. He has to watch carefully for signs. The best sign that a pitcher is doing well is continuing to retire hitters. So I say let starting pitchers finish their games if they are going good. Don't gamble with the bullpen until you have no choice!