Stop coddling Lidge. Demote him. Promote someone — anyone — to closer. Ideally Ryan Madson. Chan Ho Park would work. Maybe Brett Myers in a week or two when he gets re-acclimated to pitching to Major League hitters.
Lidge may only be blowing regular season games and the Phillies still have a sizable — and nearly unsurmountable — lead in the division, but he has the potential to cost the Phillies home-field advantage in the playoffs. As Matt Swartz of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, home teams win 54% of the time in baseball. The Phils were a game behind the Dodgers and Cardinals going into tonight’s game, and will likely be two out after the other games are finished.
If you recall last year, the Phillies were a perfect 7-0 at home in the playoffs. This year, the Dodgers are 42-28 (.600) at Dodger Stadium, and the Cardinals are 43-26 (.623) at Busch Stadium.
It is true that the Phillies have played better on the road this season (likely due to randomness), but the Phils will take the opportunity to win the bottom of the ninth as opposed to the top 100 times out of 100.
Lidge’s problems are not just based on the individual now; they are having a tangible effect on the Phillies’ post-season hopes. Charlie Manuel needs to stop sparing Lidge’s feelings and put a competent reliever in the ninth inning.