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Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson, Antonio Bastardo, Brad Lidge, and the Phillies ugly weekend in Washington

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

Only in Philadelphia you can be on top of the world with your sports teams, then have sudden widespread panic occur within the span of three days (and I’m not even talking about the Eagles).

Are you wondering just what exactly happened to the Phillies in Washington over the past three days? Was there a full moon this weekend? I didn’t bother to look.

I’m trying really hard to find anything good that came out of this team losing two out of three to the Nationals, and I’m having zero luck. Well, I take that back. Roy Oswalt looked pretty good Saturday night, which is a good sign because your number one starter (Roy Halladay) looks like he’s sat under a heat lamp after the fourth inning of every game he’s pitched since July, and another starter has a stiff shoulder (Cole Hamels).

With everything that transpired this weekend, I think it’s safe to say the Phillies are in worse shape when they came in to Washington Friday than when they left Sunday afternoon, and for lots of reasons.

Let’s break it down these issues and what level of severity they really have. Because rumor has it that people can overreact around here.....

Jimmy RollinsWhy does Jimmy Rollins always seem to be in Charlie Manuel’s crosshairs?  Photo: www.reclinergm.com

First off, why does Jimmy Rollins always seem to get hurt when he is approaching the .270 mark and is smoking the ball? Man he was really in a groove, and now an injury has once again shelved him. This time it’s his groin, which some would argue is worse than a strained calf (Rollins’ injury last year).

Rollins is listed as day to day, but then again, he was in April of 2010. Let’s hope day to day doesn’t turn into week to week. Reportedly, Rollins left the stadium before the game even ended. Not good. He'll have an MRI Monday.....

If there was any question whether Rollins’ health will be an issue at the negotiating table after the season ends, there isn’t anymore. The Phillies will almost surely use this in their favor whether they decide to bring Rollins back for 2012 and beyond. Rollins’ legs ARE his game, and either he’s had some really bad breaks, or he’s simply breaking down.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the Phillies need Rollins if they have any hope to win the World Series this year. Having either Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez on the field is one thing, but having them both on the field at the same time can be hazardous to the Phillies’ health as well as your health.

Concern Level: INCREDIBLY MAJOR

 

Ryan Madsonryan madson

To be fair, Ryan Madson had only blown one save prior to the debacle on Friday night. He threw over 30 pitches prior to giving up Ryan Zimmerman’s laser beam of a grand slam. So ‘apparently’ he wasn’t available to pitch Sunday. I don’t know if I’m totally buying this.

Like I said, Madson has done it for the Phils all year. If your gonna blow a save, you might as well do it in style because that was absolutely horrific. Believe it or not, most of Philly was calling for his head Friday and I thought everyone was overreacting. Truth is, I still do.

Kind of.

Most fans harken back to the days when Madson was the king of the two-out, two-strike, game-winning or game-tying home run. Believe me, there were several of them (David Wright and Brian Roberts just to name a few). So it’s a natural reaction to think that things are going on in his head again. For the sake of the entire Phillies team and the Delaware Valley, we hope not. After all, do you really want Brad Lidge closing?

Concern Level:  A potential MAJOR


 

Antonio Bastardo:antonio bastardo

It’s one thing to mow down guys during the first three months of the season. It’s another to give that responsibility to youngsters and rookies and expect them to perform the same come crunch time.

To Bastardo’s credit, he’s pitched in the post season before, but he’s the only lefty in the pen (which absolutely drives me up a wall, but that’s beside the point). Is it too much to use him in all of these situations? Can you ask him to be a closer if Madson’s head is screwy?

I was shocked more than anybody when Ian Desmond and his .228 batting average left the yard Sunday to tie that game. Will this get in Bastardo’s head? To be fair, he was throwing great in the ninth inning (which Tom McCarthy stressed over and over again). It was a good pitch that was working for him the whole inning. We’ll see if this carries over.

Concern Level: MINOR for now.

 

Brad LidgeBrad Lidge photo: AP/Courtesy of CSNPhilly.com.

Speaking of Lidge, I would ask why the Phils are keeping him around, but I kind of know the answer. They need him for now because Jose Contreras’ status for the rest of the year is uncertain, and Michael Stutes looks like he’s been wearing down since July. That’s what you get when you rely on two inexperienced youngsters to man your bullpen the whole season.  

At this stage in his career, Lidge is just a one trick pony who should not be used in a non-save situation. His fastball is gone and isn’t coming back. If he puts one runner on base in an extra inning game, chances are it’s all over because his control flutters and he can’t hold runners on.

Yeah, this has ugly written all over it. Was there ever a time when you would take Kyle Kendrick on your post season roster over Lidge? Think about it.

And what if Contreras doesn’t come back? Who can you use? Michael Schwimer? No chance in you know what. I know it was his major league debut, but how nervous do you think he’d get in the World Series let alone his first game? Something tells me that come October, Vance Worley could become more valuable than any of us ever thought to this team, but he’s a rookie too!!

Concern Level: MINOR if Contreras comes back healthy. If not, MAJOR.


Bottom Line: As of last week, the Phillies only blew one lead all season when going into the ninth inning. Their bullpen blew three this series.

Is this just a coincidence that the bullpen melted down twice in three days? Are the dog days of summer taking its toll on the Phightins? Or are the guys who’ve done it all year not ready for prime time?

I really don’t know. One minute you think it’s all systems go with this team. The next minute you have more questions than you care to deal with. Rollins injury is not good, and I'm not sold on the Phils' pen yet. Even when they were getting the job done.

In saying that, this should be a 5-1 home stand. We shall see. Hopefully just a bump in the road.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin!

 

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

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