UPDATE: The news isn’t getting any better. Lidge told Martin Frank of the News Journal that he actually has a partially torn rotator cuff and will be shut down completely for 3-6 weeks. Frank writes that Lidge will need even more time once he’s actually able to throw and speculates that it could be early June before he returns.
5:20 PM: Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that Phillies closer Brad Lidge is now expected to miss 3-6 weeks with his shoulder injury and manager Charlie Manuel said today that Jose Contreras is his first choice to fill in.
While not surprising, that’s probably frustrating news for Ryan Madson after he said earlier this month that he’d like an opportunity to close if he’s going to stay in Philadelphia beyond this year.
Madson is the Phillies’ best reliever and one of the elite relievers in the entire National League, but he’s struggled in a few brief stints as a fill-in closer previously and everyone from Manuel, pitching coach Rich Dubee, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. seems unconvinced that he’s capable of thriving in the role long term.
Of course, Contreras hardly has a long history of closing success on his resume. In fact, he has a grand total of just four career saves. Madson has 20 career saves, including 15 in the past two seasons, and more importantly than what he’s done in a small sample of chances with ninth-inning duties is that he’s posted ERAs of 2.55, 3.26, 3.05, and 3.05 overall during the past four seasons.
Ultimately it won’t be a big deal if Lidge is able to return from the disabled list in just a few weeks, but with Madson eligible for free agency after this season it’s tough to imagine the Phillies being able to re-sign him if they won’t even let him be a fill-in closer. On the other hand, if they don’t trust him to fill in for Lidge perhaps they’re not all that interested in re-signing him anyway, which would be an odd stance given his excellence since becoming a full-time reliever in 2007.