Park Chan-ho of Philadelphia, seen in this file photo, is being mentioned as a potential closer. The 36-year-old veteran pitcher has been solid in middle relief, with a 2-1 record and a 2.40 ERA. A columnist from the Philadelphia Inquirer called for struggling closer Brad Lidge to be replaced and named Park as one of several potential replacements. Park also ranked second in a poll that asked who should be the Phillies’ closer, Thursday (KST). / Korea Times File.
By Yoon Chul
If fans have it their way, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Park Chan-ho may become the team's closer.
In Thursday's (KST) poll asking ``Who should close for the Phillies" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 36-year-old Korean veteran ranked second. Out of 3,376 people, Brett Myers topped with 1,417 votes (37.9 percent) and Park got 826 (22.1 percent).
Inquirer columnist Bill Conlin wrote directly to team manager Charlie Manuel and General Manager Ruben Amaro. Conlin claimed that Park was the right closer for the team and urged Amaro to dissuade Manuel from using Brad Lidge as the lone Phillies closer.
"Brad Lidge is the closer," Manuel told the Inquirer, despite Lidge's blown saves in the early season.
Lidge completed a special season last year. He was handed the ball 48 times in save situations and was victorious every time.
However, this season, the World Series champion has been far from perfect.
The 32-year-old closer has blown nine save opportunities, grabbing only 25 saves in 34 chances. Lidge is also 0-6 with a 7.33 ERA.
In 46 2/3 innings with Lidge on the mound, the right-hander threw with a 28 to 48 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Conlin called this unacceptable.
Meanwhile, Park has shown a remarkable transformation after he changed his role from starter to reliever.
As a starter he was 1-1 with a 7.29 ERA in five appearances, whereas he is 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA as a reliever.
Park's pitching has remained solid, giving the Phillies fans lots to cheer about. During July, Park's ERA was 0.68 in eight games, and he allowed only two runs in 11 1/3 innings in eight appearances in August.
Manuel still has room for Lidge as the closer, but if he changes his mind, Park is the best alternative.
The other option is Myers, who showed a lot of potential as a closer in 2007. He has been pitching in Single A after recovering from a hip injury. He is expected to return to the Majors in the middle of September.
Park already has experience as a closer in big matches. In the 2006 World Baseball Classic (WBC), he pitched three times as a closer and once as a starter. He finished with three saves, a 1-0 record and a 0.00 ERA in 10 innings.