Charlie Manuel sure took his time pulling the trigger but finally the move has been made. Brad Lidge is out as the Philly closer, Ryan Madson is in. Exhale. We can all move on with our lives.
Lidge was moved to "low-pressure situations" Thursday, which means he won't be affecting games for a while. Lidge picked up an inning of work at Washington and while he retired three of four men (with two strikeouts), so what – the Phils were trailing by six runs at the time.
Could Lidge get back into the closing gig before the year ends? It's hard to believe that the Phillies would ever consider it, but Manuel, ever the diplomat, didn't dismiss the possibility.
"He could," Manuel said. "He hasn't lost [anything]. I'm telling you right now, he definitely can still close. I see where he could be our everyday closer again. Yeah, of course."
You're welcome to believe that all you want, but in the meantime Madson looks like a great play down the stretch. He's fashioned an ERA in the low 3s for the last three seasons as a rock-solid set-up man and he's got the raw stuff to close (mid-90s heater, a strikeout per inning). Don't be thrown by the five blown saves Madson has this year; the BS stat is worthless for most set-up men, as they're asked to work through the most treacherous of spots, and even when they succeed they usually aren't allowed to hang on for the save. He should do fine in the big chair.
Brett Myers becomes the interesting dark horse in all this; he's logged three scoreless appearances since rejoining the team this month and he obviously has closer experience. If Madson stumbles or needs help, you'd like to think Myers would get a look before the shell-shocked Lidge would. Then again, Manuel's pretzel logic doesn't always make sense to us, now does it?
• Jarrod Washburn had a nice run for most of the summer but it's time to put a fork in his mixed-league value. He's simply not missing bats right now and can't be trusted even by the streamer community. Washburn avoided a major meltdown in Kansas City on Thursday (5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 1 K) but it's unsettling to see him struggling so much with teams like the Royals and Mariners. Make your spec plays elsewhere.
• Ian Desmond stepped forward nicely in the Washington system this year (.330/.401/.477 at two levels, with seven homers and 21 steals) and it will be interesting to see how much time the 23-year-old shortstop gets down the stretch. Desmond went 2-for-4 with a homer Thursday, batting seventh, and while the Nats already have a capable shortstop in Cristian Guzman, a rebuilding club like the Nats would be better served evaluating its young players over the final three weeks; we all know by now who Guzman is, after all. Keep an eye on Desmond's weekend play, he could have some mixed-league juice for the pennant push.
Injury Blog: Gil Meche (shoulder) is probably done for the year. … Carlos Guillen (shoulder) won't be able to take right-handed cuts for the rest of the season. … Mark DeRosa is going to gut it out through the year, then get wrist surgery in the offseason. … Troy Tulowitzki (back) missed his third straight game, sitting next to Ian Stewart (back) on the pine. … Ubaldo Jimenez (hamstring) is done for this week; his next turn has been pushed back to Tuesday against the Giants. … Gary Sheffield (back) might be able to play this weekend, apparently. You never know what direction that story is going in. … Brian Bannister has a tired shoulder and is headed to New York to get a second opinion. … Huston Street (biceps) did some long-toss Thursday, for what it's worth.
Speed Round: Eric Young Jr. finally got something going on the bases Thursday, stealing his first two bags of the year. … John Lackey threw a five-hit shutout against the Mariners and has allowed just one run over his last 26 innings. … Nate McLouth has three homers and six walks since returning to the Atlanta lineup six games back. … Alex Gordon's homer and walk helped the Royals complete a sweep of the Tigers. … Possible steamers for Saturday: Brett Anderson at Minnesota; Jamie Moyer against the Mets; David Huff (soft tosser has been effective of late) against the Royals.