Brad Lidge Is Effective Again

Brad Lidge has been temporarily sidelined with some elbow soreness, a fact which likely comes as no surprise to Phillies fans. As Todd Zolecki notes, “It is the same elbow that required surgery following the 2009 season and two cortisone shots earlier this year.”

While many Phillies fans roll their eyes at another Lidge-related injury headline, it is worth noting that he has been effective since the beginning of August. In his last 17 appearances, he recorded 16 and one-third innings with a 0.55 ERA, 18 strikeouts, and just three walks. He even went ten straight appearances (August 1-24) without issuing a walk. Overall, Lidge has a 3.16 SIERA on the season and has improved his strikeout and walk rates compared to last year, despite losing velocity on both his fastball and slider.

The focus on the Phillies has shifted away from the bullpen and onto the offense given their struggles, so it is understandable that Lidge’s success has been overlooked. While he is no longer the closer we grew to know and love in 2008, he is also nowhere near as ineffective as he was last year. The only thing separating him and a successful season is a clean bill of health. Should the team lose him for a third time this season, they would be without their second-most effective reliever behind Ryan Madson and his 2.04 SIERA.

With close races for both the NL East and the Wild Card, Charlie Manuel can’t afford to keep Lidge on the sidelines. But if the skipper employs him strategically (i.e. not using him to nail down a lead of three-plus runs), Lidge can both help out a playoff-hopeful team and get some necessary rest for his ailing elbow. As we learned in the World Series in each of the past two seasons, the closer is an integral part to a World Series champion team.

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  1. Hunter

    September 09, 2010 09:19 AM

    It’s very telling of our minimal expectations of Lidge that we are excited when he is actually doing the job he is paid to do in an average to slightly above average way.

    He’s not one of the best 5 closers in baseball. He’s arguably not even one of the best 5 closers in his league. But we’re excited because he doesn’t stink like last year.

    Isn’t this just the excitement of minimal expectations being exceeded?

  2. Bill Baer

    September 09, 2010 09:26 AM

    I think the “minimal expectations” seem minimal in comparison to his 2008 success. But realistically, his true talent level lies somewhere between the high of 2008 and the low of 2009. And that’s where he’s at in 2010.

  3. Jeff

    September 09, 2010 12:06 PM

    Before Zimmerman hit that bomb and announced to the world that Lidge was tipping his pitches: 21.1 IP, 1.59 WHIP, 5.48 ERA

    After: 16.1 IP, 0.61 WHIP, 0.55 ERA

    Something to think about.

  4. Scott G

    September 09, 2010 12:13 PM

    If Manuel keeps abusing Madson’s arm pitching in 5 of the last 6 days, he too will be sidelined. Last night’s use of Madson was awful. Going into the 9th inning up 4 runs, the Phillies chances at winning the game sat around 99%. Why not use contreras?

  5. Jon

    September 09, 2010 01:16 PM

    Contreras had pitched in 4 of the last 6 games (at least according to Charlie last night), and Durbin the last 3. Realistically your options there were a generic left-hander, Madson or Kendrick.

  6. Scott G

    September 09, 2010 02:52 PM

    Why not Herndon? He almost definitely wouldn’t have allowed 4 runs.

    Contreras threw 15 pitches Friday, 0 Saturday, threw 19 Sunday, 0 Monday, threw 16 on Tuesday. He couldn’t throw in 4 of 6 days (only this appearance would have been on back-to-back days) with a guaranteed day off today? So Charlie lied or made up the stat when he said 4 of last 6 games (if you got it right)

    Madson threw 11 Friday, 8 Saturday, 0 on Sunday, 8 on Monday, 19 on Tuesday.

    Since when does Contreras’s arm mean more to the team than Madson’s?

  7. Jon

    September 09, 2010 04:52 PM

    Herndon had already entered the game to get the final out of the 8th (after allowing an inherited runner to score). In the 9th, Herndon started the inning, got an out, then walked a runner. With the meat of the Marlins’ order (Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez, who’d hit a 3 run homer in his prior at-bat) coming up, Charlie went to Madson to get the outs.

    No, I don’t want to see Madson’s arm fly off either, but he’s the most reliable guy we have back there. As for Contreras, he wasn’t effective in his last appearance and since he’s not a career reliever, Charlie has stated on multiple occasions that he can’t treat him like one.

  8. Dave

    September 09, 2010 08:47 PM

    You say the last two world series show how important the closer is? Go back one more year, and Papelbon was key to the Red Sox winning the world series as well.

  9. Jim

    September 09, 2010 10:51 PM

    I think there was a reason why Charlie put Madson in there in the 9th on Wed. night. It’s quite simple… When you are up 10 runs, take out your lights-out starter (BTW, I was praying Charlie wouldn’t put Hamels back in there for the 8th. I was freaking ready to take him out after 6 innings and give him a little rest for the stretch run, so at least Charlie did something right), and then proceed to watch your first reliever give up 6 runs and the lead is now all the way down to 4… Yeah, you just want to see the game over. I mean, we can talk about how they had a 99% chance of winning… I don’t blame Charlie one bit after Nate “Washed Up” Robertson’s so-called “performance.”

  10. hk

    September 10, 2010 07:09 AM

    I don’t blame Charlie one bit after Nate “Washed Up” Robertson’s so-called “performance.”

    Jim, I agree that, at that point, I wasn’t upset to see Madson. However, the question is why did it take Charlie so long to replace Robertson in the first place? At the latest, Herndon should have been getting loose after K, 1B, BB, HR with Dubee taking a long walk to the mound to talk to Robertson. Uggla should have been Robertson’s final hitter with 3 RHB’s on deck.

  11. CH Phan

    September 10, 2010 09:52 AM

    Honestly I think the most “telling” part of this particular story is the immense patience shown by the FO, the managers, the sports writers, and the fans who all waited for this turnaround to occur. The same patience has also been shown for Cole Hamels and it has also paid off.

    Oddly, other players don’t get this lucky. I’d love to know why.

  12. R

    September 10, 2010 12:53 PM

    if a four-run lead was too close for comfort, why on earth allow nate robertson to pitch long enough to allow 6 runs? bring in herndon once robertson gets in trouble, and madson is not abused.

    if manuel waasnt consistently abusing madson/lidge in 4 and 5+ run games, lidge wouldn’t be close to the DL right now.

  13. zfg

    September 10, 2010 01:06 PM

    @CH Phan

    I don’t know that there were a lot of people in the fanbase or media who were patient with Lidge last year. The team was, but what was their alternative? His contract was too big to trade even if he wasn’t having a horrible year, and obviously teams are hesitant to just swallow that much money. I don’t think they had much choice but to wait and hope he could turn it around.

    Hamels had just come off a world series MVP, and it’s not like he was really THAT bad last season, regardless of what the WIP crowd would have you believe.

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