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Commentary: Composing The Bullpen

Brad Lidge will likely be ready to pitch for the Phillies Saturday in Cincinnati, and that’s good news of course. He’ll obviously slide into the closer’s role, where he originally was set to stand. But if the first three games of the season said anything about the bullpen, it’s that Tom Gordon doesn’t belong in high-pressure situations.

When Lidge returns, it’s likely waiver pickup Tim Lahey will be offered back to the Twins. And it’s likely Gordon will be Lidge’s setup man; that isn’t the way it should go.

Gordon has struggled — an understatement — with being a competent back-end reliever. His fastball isn’t close to what it once was, and he’s consistently leaving pitches high in the zone. Good performances without baserunners will be few and far between.

Once Lidge returns, this type of composition in the bullpen looks best:

  1. Brad Lidge – closer
  2. JC Romero – setup man
  3. Ryan Madson – seventh inning setup man
  4. Clay Condrey – left-handed specialist
  5. Rudy Seanez – middle relief
  6. Tom Gordon – middle relief
  7. Chad Durbin – long-innings man

Condrey has been a nice surprise, especially after his inning today. Getting Lastings Milledge to swing and miss at his tailing slider and freezing Ryan Zimmerman proved to me the team should try him out in higher-pressure situations. Madson probably shouldn’t go more than one inning (though the run he surrendered today wasn’t entirely his fault). And Durbin has been a fine addition so far.

But Gordon — he’s got to move down the depth chart.

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