Should Happ be the Closer?

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, September 24, 2009 01:00 PM | Comments: 67
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts, Raising Questions

Philadelphia Phillies' J.A. Happ pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning of the baseball game in Pittsburgh,  Thursday, Aug. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)J.A. Happ to the closers role? It’s probably more intriguing than watching Brad Lidge in the ninth.  Definitely reduces the risk of heart attack as well.

On top of that, Ryan Madson hasn’t been able to close out games with regularity and Brett Myers is an unknown because of his shoulder and hip ailments. So who can be trusted?

Clay Condrey is coming back from his own injuries and really isn’t thought of as a ninth inning pitcher.  Sergio Escalona?  No thanks.  J.C. Romero is still fighting off a sore elbow, so his involvement in the postseason is a concern at this point.  Scott Eyre is a specialist, cross him off the list. Tyler Walker is a former closer with decent returns from the spot, but the Phillies like using him in a seventh inning role, it would appear.

Chan Ho Park, if he were not laid up with a hamstring pull, would probably have a chance to succeed in that role.  But his availability is also in question.

A very thought-provoking scenario could include Pedro Martinez as your anchor.  He’s never done it, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t shine.  Pedro clearly has the tools, the mental makeup, and the cojones to flourish in that situation. With neck issues clouding the picture, it seems more a fantasy than a reality. Besides, he would work better as a fourth starter because of his postseason credentials.

That leaves us with James Anthony Happ.  It’s not as crazy as it might sound.  Happ has worked out of the pen this year, and the results are there.  And while his stuff is not overpowering or heat seeking, his command is pinpoint, and his attitude and fortitude give him a leg up.

He has dominated in his position as the Phillies fourth starter this year, but with desperate times come desperate measures.  The kid is a gamer, so with the remaining two weeks in the season, see if it works.  If Charlie is going to put him in the pen anyway, why not use him when it counts the most.

A similar move occurred a few years ago when the St. Louis Cardinals tabbed a young righty Adam Wainwright to be their closer for the playoffs.  Of course, this hinges on the health of Happ, who is still dealing with that sore oblique.

Looking at the entire scope of things, I really can’t find a negative with moving Happ.  Of course, he would look better in the rotation, that we can all agree on. But with four very capable starters already in the rotation, this can work.  Do you like or dislike this possibility?

Hey, it couldn’t get any worse, right?

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About Pat Gallen

Pat Gallen has written 1684 articles on Phillies Nation.

Pat is Editor-in-Chief of Phillies Nation. He also covers the Phils for 97.5 FM in Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Chapps

    Everyone you are failing to see the only solution that makes any sense, what for it, here it comes……….Jamie Moyer.

    Think about it he is the exact opposite of what you would expect from a closer and he normally has a high rate of success the first time through a lineup. Tell me that Manny or Albert wouldn’t be completely thrown for a loop leading off the ninth and facing Old Man Moyer. Not only could it work but it would work.

    And I know he has something like zero career saves, but you know what so did Mariano before he got his first. And if anyone is crazy enough to use Moyer in a save situation Charlie is.

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    rtbamam said “Anyone is better than that pathectic excuse of a human LIDGE”

    So the guy is perfect in 2008 and was one of the reasons the Phils are WFC and now that he can’t pitch he is a “pathetic excuse for a human”? Criticize his pitching but calling him a “pathetic excuse for a human” is WAY out of line so my request for you to go F yourself has not changed.

  • Posts: 0 TrappedInNYC

    Just for yucks I hope Manuel lets Lidge pitch the 9th tonight…

  • Posts: 0 Michael

    i agree. happ should be our closer.

  • Posts: 0 mikeB

    Good idea for Happ being the closer in the post season. The fourth starting slot should go to Pedro Martinez for his pitching experience and the experience he has in post season play. Moyer for long relief or if something happens to one of the starters. Hard to say at this time because of injuries who is all going to be available for the bullpen to put on the post season roster.

  • Posts: 0 rtbamam

    right back at you joedad

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    phillies fan in ny city – interesting about dan quisenberry…were any of those BS in the post season?

  • Posts: 0 Ryk

    @ Don M -
    I completely agree with your post. I do feel that eventhough Lidge has the label of closer, it doesn’t mean he should get the ball in any game when a save opportunity arrises. The job of the manager is to give your team the best opportunity to win in every game. Part of that means giving the ball to the pitcher who has the best chance of recording 3 outs without giving up a run. Yeah, the options are thin with the decimated bullpen, but with his struggles this season, you can’t honestly say that Brad Lidge is that man for that job at this moment.
    Should we draw and quarter him? Absolutely not. But Cholly needs to give Lidge an opportunity to correct himself before throwing him into the lion’s den. With every blown save, Lidge’s head is going to be that much more difficult to fix. I’m not a shrink. I don’t know how to get our man’s mojo back. But at this time, high-stress situations just aren’t working out for him.
    He WILL get it back. 2008 was proof that no matter how hard he hit rock-bottom, he can always rebound and become a stud. For right now, I think he should be given mop-up duties….unless that messes with his head even more. Anyone here have a PhD?

  • Posts: 0 Ryk

    @ j reed. Bingo.

  • Posts: 0 dolly keen



  • Posts: 0 j reed

    i agree joedad…knee jerk reactions and snarky quips are fine in the game or post game hangover. Criticism is fine and is part of being a fan…other than gambling, sports are great entertainment and without good and bad criticism it would be meaningless…look at the marlins. But calculated nastiness esp. to players on your own team…there is enough ugliness in life and in the world. Is it wrong i don’t know, but it gets tiresome. If the guy is doing jell-o shots off of strippers every night well then that’s different territory. It honestly pains me to see Lidge go thru this and I don’t care if he makes more money in a day than i do in a year. Actually its irrelevant. like I said before it just sucks dog farts.

  • Posts: 0 LH

    j reed – the injury report on Happ was a good perceptive. I’d rather Happ take his chances in a the late innings. But I guess less starting work and more pen work would probably lead to more preparation, and of course less rest. The Phillies have the same outlook since their starting their young star tonight. My fingers are crossed and may the baseball gods shine on his shoulders through tonight and the post season.

  • Posts: 0 bob

    People need to lay off Lidge somewhat. He shouldn’t get into CBP without a ticket, give me a break. The man deserves respect for giving young and old Phils fans alike the biggest thrill of their sports lives. That alone deserves respect and admiration.

    What that said it seems that Lidge is done for the year 2009. He just does not have it any more. I would entertain using Happ or Walker as the closer, depending on the health of the pen. Keys words, health of the pen. I don’t see Lidge closing full time in the postseason, but I see him in relief with certain matchups.

    At this point with the state of injuries, ANY arm is a good arm.

    Chuck said it best “a healthy and confident Lidge is best”. Since this probably will not happen, guess Im for the pen by committee or using what combo works. We have enough of a lead to try this and lets see where this goes. Quality starts = continued rest for the pen.

  • Posts: 0 bob

    When I said done for 2009 I meant as full time closer…

  • Posts: 0 Dr. Baseball

    Lidge is gonna be awesome in the playoffs mark my words

  • [...] Should Happ be the Closer? [...]

  • [...] off of the DL and is still fighting his way to full-strength — who’s it going to be? J.A. Happ? Nope. Durbin, Condrey, Walker? No, no, no. So, although Amaro never named a closer, he may as well [...]

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