Friday, July 2, 2010

Philadelphia Phillies' 10 Item Checklist to Overtake the Braves and Mets- Part 3

Apr. 12, 2010 - Philadelphia, United States - epa02114310 Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Ryan Madson is congratulated by catcher Carlos Ruiz at the end of the home opening baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA 12 April 2010. The Phillies won 7-4.

Part 3 of 12

2. A healthy and effective Ryan Madson

A key element to enable Baez to be pushed into a Clay Condrey type role is the return of a healthy and effective Ryan Madson.

The one-time aspiring placekicker has begun a minor league rehab assignment and could conceivably return to the big club within a week or two. Considering his long layoff, it is unclear how long it will take him to re-gain his strength and command.

Madson primarily relies on a mid- to high-90's heater and his excellent change-up. The former requires strength and fitness while the latter requires precision, so it may take some time to find his groove. 

An effective Madson over the season's second half and down the stretch will be very important to the Phillies' chances. The combination of Jose Contreras, JC Romero, and Madson could make late inning set-up a differentiating strength similar to 2008. 

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