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?