Expect Ryan Madson to Be the Closer of the Future

Ryan Madson is finally turning the corner as the future closer for the Phillies. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2010 was a rough year for Ryan Madson. He had five blown saves in ten opportunities; he had blown his first shot at being a closer in the league, and had broken his toe by kicking a chair in frustration.

To add insult to injury, Charlie Manuel assigned Jose Contreras as the closer over Madson before this season when Brad Lidge went on the DL.

The media suggested that Madson did not have the “closer’s mentality” necessary to be a closer in the league, which is why Manuel picked Contreras instead of Madson.

The 2011 season has been a complete turnaround for Madson. In just the month of May, he already has just as many saves (5) as he did last year. He has a WHIP of .93 and an even lower ERA (.60). He has 18 strikeouts in 15 innings pitched, and he has given up one run so far this season on just nine hits.

The Phillies have a few tough decisions to make this upcoming offseason. They have to decide whether or not they want to pay big bucks to keep Madson a Phillie when his contract expires at the end of the season, and if they are keeping him, they also have to decide if they are going to pick up closer Brad Lidge’s $12.5 million option for next year.

But if Madson’s numbers are like they are now at the end of the season, he will make those tough decisions a lot easier to make.

Madson has made it public that he wants to not only end his career here in Philadelphia, but he wants to become a full-time closer.

Certainly no one questions if he has the “stuff” needed to be a closer. Madson has a devastating changeup that makes hitters whiff and look foolish, and has been a lock down eighth inning reliever here in Philadelphia. He is almost always a 1-2-3 bridge to Lidge.

But Madson seemed to have a difficult time getting batters out when he went from just being “the bridge” to being the closer. Many say being a closer is almost all mental, having to have the ability to overcome the pressure of closing out a baseball game.

While many thought he did not have that “closer’s mentality” last year, it would be hard to argue that he does not have it this year. Madson has been dominant in his role as the closer since Contreras went on the DL April 24th. He has seized this second chance opportunity at proving he can be a closer in this league, going 1-2-3 in ninth innings like he did in last night’s 5-3 win over the Marlins.

Pitching this great during his contract year will probably give him the title as the highest paid reliever  ever in Phillies history. If he keeps making saves like he has in his last five attempts, he will add another title next year.

The highest paid closer in Phillies history.

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