Entering Friday, it was assumed that Brad Lidge would be eased back into the closer’s role, sharing the responsibility with Ryan Madson. Well, now the Phillies are without their safety net.
Madson was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday afternoon after breaking his right toe. He told of Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that he suffered the injury after kicking a metal folding chair in frustration following a blown save against the Giants on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m embarrassed, I let down my teammates,” Madson said. “I let down the
fans that want us all to be out there playing hard for them. I feel
terrible about that. That’s probably the worst part. It is the worst
part. I’ve done it before. Not kick stuff, but I’ve gotten upset before
and never broken a bone. It’s just one of those things. I learned from
it. I won’t do it again. I realize how much I’m letting my teammates
down and the fans.”
In turn, Lidge made his season debut in a non-save situation against the Mets on Friday night and was rudely welcomed by Rod Barajas, who slugged his second home run of the game. Lidge was pulled by manager Charlie Manuel after just 11 pitches and three hard-hit balls. According to Brooks Baseball, he averaged just under 92 mph on his fastball and topped out at 93 mph. It’s hard to take many positives from Friday’s performance if you are a Phillies fan, but Manuel tells Zolecki that he only wanted Lidge to get his feet wet.
“He still needs work,” Manuel said. “I was just putting him in for a
couple of hitters, really; I wanted to get J.C. Romero in the game for a
couple of hitters. But Lidge needs work.”
Doesn’t exactly sound like someone who is going to pitch the ninth inning right away.
Looking at the alternatives, Danys Baez has the most closer experience, though the Mets torched him for four runs on Friday night. For what it’s worth, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes that Jose Contreras is the backup to Lidge at this point. And with a 1.35 ERA and a 12/0 K/BB ratio over his first eight appearances this season, he certainly deserves to be.
As for Saturday, Manuel is probably hoping Roy Halladay can make it a moot point and all go all nine.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.