Armed with a shaved head and a devastating slider, Brad Lidge restored the Phillies’ eight game lead in the NL East Sunday night. More importantly, he restored Philly’s confidence in him as a closer.
With each passing day, Brett Myers gets closer to coming off the DL. When that happens, Charlie Manuel will have a decision to make. If Brad Lidge continues embarrassing hitters like he did Sunday night, it won’t be much of a decision at all.
The game-ending strikeout was particularly spectacular. Lidge threw a down-and-in slider on Greg Norton, and Norton literally lost his bat as he tried to hold up.
Hopefully this will finally put an end to the ridiculous closer controversy in Philadelphia. Sunday night wasn’t an anomaly, it was the culmination of what has quietly been Brad’s best month yet. Lidge is back, and he’s been back for quite some time now.
This begs the question: Why was Ryan Madson closing for the Phillies less than a week ago? The answer: Philly swapped sanity for statistics. The Phillies saw the ballooning ERA and ignored the reality of the situation.
An appearance-by-appearance analysis reveals what actually happened.
Aug. 4 and 6
2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, Sv
1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER
When Lidge came in, the score was already 9-3. He is notoriously bad in blow-outs, but Manuel will still use him from time to time to give him work. This was one of those times.
1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 1 ER, BlSv
No excuse for this one, but it was his first blown save since coming off the DL.
1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 0 ER, Sv
0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, 2 R, BlSv
Pin this loss on poor glove work, not Brad Lidge’s pitching arm. Utley and Lidge committed costly errors, but Lidge the pitcher looked fine.
Aug. 16, 22, 23, and 24
3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 R, 3 Sv
0.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3R, BlSv
This was Lidge’s fourth appearance in as many days. When a guy pitches that many days in a row, it doesn’t matter who he is, it’s only a matter of time before he gets shelled. Chalk this one up to overwork.
Aug. 28 and 30
2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 Sv
Conventional wisdom says that Brad Lidge had a terrible month of August. That simply isn’t true. There were three bad outings, but one was a result of a couple of costly errors and another was the product of a tired arm. Bottom line, Lidge had one inexcusably poor outing, some bad luck, and tons of saves in between.
That doesn’t seem like such a bad month anymore. The ERA, WHIP, and saves to blown saves ratio are all through the roof, but a game by game breakdown tells a completely different, and far more accurate story.