...and the Phillies' bullpen situation is still cloudy. Brad Lidge has been removed from his role as the full-time closer, with Ryan Madson being used in the role several times in the past week. Lidge has been brought in to close in a few situations, including tonight against the Nationals, but still hasn't been the dominant closer he was in 2008. Injuries have decimated the bullpen all season, with Lidge, Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero, Clay Condrey, and Scott Eyre, among others, all hitting the DL at some point this season, and now Chan Ho Park, who has been great since going to the pen, is hobbled by a hamstring injury. It appears that at this point, Charlie Manuel is going with a bullpen-by-committee approach with the hope that it will allow Lidge to finally get it together in time for the postseason. If Lidge doesn't get it together, and no one else catches fire and assumes the closer's spot, Manuel does have options in the closer's role besides Lidge if he does take the committee into the playoffs. Madson has handled closing this week better than he did earlier in the season, Brett Myers is back from hip surgery and closed for the Phillies in 2007, and there is even the possibility of having Pedro Martinez close in the playoffs since he will not be in the rotation (barring injury).
On a much more encouraging note, the starters have pitched great since the All-Star break. With the acquisition of Cliff Lee from Cleveland, along with the emegrence of J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton overcoming his usual slow start, Pedro showing he can still pitch at a high level, and Cole Hamels finally shaking off his World Series-hangover, the Phillies' rotation looks like it's peaking just in time for the playoffs.
One question that remains to be answered is if the end of the regular season will spell the end of Jamie Moyer's career as an active major league pitcher. It seems doubtful at this time that the Phillies will put Moyer on the postseason roster, but we'll know for sure in a couple of weeks.