NEW YORK - Ryan Madson took more than a World Series ring out of last season.
By pitching several big innings in so many postseason games as the setup man for Brad Lidge, the 28-year-old righthander also gained enough confidence to convince himself he can be a quality closer.
After learning that Lidge was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee yesterday and that he had moved into the closer's role, Madson said he was ready.
"This year, yeah, more than the previous years, just because in the playoffs and World Series, every inning was big," Madson said before the Phillies opened a three-game series against the New York Mets at Citi Field. "I'm more prepared this year than I have been in the past."
With a searing fastball that frequently reaches 96 m.p.h. and a paralyzing change-up, Madson leaves little doubt that he has a closer's arsenal. He has had three save opportunities this season, blowing one. Overall, though, he has been outstanding. Madson went into last night's game with 12 straight scoreless appearances covering 102/3 innings. He had inherited five runners and allowed none to score. He had not allowed a run since May 16 and had given up only seven in his 29 appearances. Madson was 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA.
"I could have just done my thing in the seventh and eighth innings for the next couple years and been happy with that, but now I have to get it done so [Lidge] doesn't feel the pressure to rush back because we'll need him," Madson said.
Madson said the main difference between being a setup man and a closer is that a closer knows he is definitely going to pitch in certain situations.
"I guess it's nice to know when you'll definitely be coming in for one inning," he said.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel sounded confident that Madson could do the job.
"He's definitely got the talent and I think he's earned a shot," Manuel said. "If Brad can't go, he's definitely the guy I want to put in there."
The Phillies called up well-traveled catcher Paul Bako from Reading to fill Lidge's spot on the roster.
The Phils signed Bako to a minor-league contract May 18. He was released by the Chicago Cubs late in spring training. The Phillies are Bako's 11th stop on a major-league journey that began with Detroit in 1998. He will be 37 on June 20.
Manuel said the addition of Bako would allow him to use Chris Coste as a righthanded pinch-hitter earlier in games. The Phillies have been searching for a righthanded pinch-hitter all season. John Mayberry Jr. briefly filled the role, but the team decided that Mayberry would be better served playing every day at Lehigh Valley.
"I can get Coste in the game against lefties from the sixth inning on instead of having to wait until the eighth or ninth, and sometimes he doesn't even get to hit," Manuel said.
In 10 games at Reading, Bako batted .357 with 10 RBIs.
The move means the Phillies will go with 12 pitchers.