It's Time: Brad Lidge Must Lose His Closer's Role for the Philadelphia Phillies

Zack Lessner@@ZLess1995Correspondent IIAugust 1, 2010

Time’s up Brad. You’ve had your moments.

We are in the middle of a pennant race and this is no time for trusts and loyalties.

It’s time that Charlie Manuel abandons ship and tries something that might work. Because this sure isn’t working anymore.

I am officially finished with Brad Lidge. I’m done with him.

Tonight I am drawing the line. I will get angry with any future decision of Manuel to put Lidge in a tight situation.

Yes he does string together some good outings at a time.

But every time there is a nightmare waiting around the corner.

Tonight’s three run game losing home run Lidge allowed to Ryan Zimmerman is the last time I ever want to see Lidge in a save situation.

Anyone else is a better option.

Don’t get me wrong. He’s a very professional player. I love the guy for his role in helping win the franchise’s second World Series.

But that was two years ago. 

How many people can say that another pitcher on the Phillies makes you more nervous when they pitch than Brad Lidge?                                                     

Fans all across the Delaware Valley are tired of letting games that the Phillies worked so hard to come back in slip away.

This season, Lidge has blown four saves in only 14 opportunities.  That is a 71% save conversion rate.

Now we aren't asking him to be a Mariano Rivera, who has a 92% save conversion rate.

But even Baltimore closer Alfredo Simon has an 83% save conversion rate and Seattle closer David Aardsma's is 81%.

And they are two of the worst closers who are on two of the worst teams in the league.

Lidge has just a ridiculously bad rate for a man whose job is to get three outs while trying to protect a 1-3 run lead.

In other words, how hard is the job? To blow a save trying to protect even a one run lead, that means he would need a 9+ ERA for that outing.

Imagine how bad he would need to be to blow a two or three run lead.

And yet Lidge blows them anyway.

This is nothing new for Lidge either. Last season, Lidge endured arguably the worst season of any relief pitcher. Ever. The man finished the year with an astounding 7.21 ERA and blowing 11 out of 42 saves, while playing most of the season.

Not to mention losing game four of the World Series.

What does Charlie see in Lidge that makes him think that a man who hasn’t even been close to good in two years can turn it around? Any other team in baseball with this situation wouldn’t have to think twice to about switching things up. Lidge has made no signs in the past year and a half of being capable of handling the job.

But Manuel is stuck two years in the past remembering Brad’s heroic 2008 season.

And Ruben Amaro didn’t do the team any good by providing no bullpen help at the trade deadline.

That being said, the Phillies will have to struggle it out the rest of the season with the inconsistent bullpen they have, barring a waivers deal.

Which leaves the question, what should the Phillies do with the ninth inning role if Lidge isn’t filling it in?

Pretty much anyone one or combination will work better than what they have now, but they do have options.

Some may argue for using right hander Jose Contreras. Contreras filled the role pretty well in the beginning of the year when Lidge was hurt. He has struggled some since then, but has turned it around recently.

Others may want to stick lefty J.C Romero in the role, but that is a bad move for two reasons. First of all, the Phillies don’t have another lefty in the bullpen to use in lefty-lefty situations (thanks Ruben). Second of all, Romero wouldn’t be able to find the strike zone even if the plate was doubled in size, posting ridiculous 19 walks in only 23.2 innings.

But what the Phillies should do won’t be all too unfamiliar.

Actually, only one part of it would be new.

The Phillies need to recognize Chad Durbin’s consistency throughout the years and promote him to late inning duties. If that means putting him in the closer’s role every so often, then so be it.

But that would only be to give the should-be closer a break every so often.

Right hander Ryan Madson needs to be given another chance at ninth inning duties. He has the best stuff out of this bullpen and the most durability.

Madson has proven to be a trustworthy back end of the bullpen reliever for the past few years now. While he has struggled filling in as closer for Brad Lidge every so often, he hasn’t had enough opportunities to be put aside.

He is the Phillies best reliever, and he has the stamina of a starter because he was a starter for the Phillies in the minors and brief stretches in the majors.

So if that means pitching him more than one inning, then do it. That seemed to work out a few decades ago when inning limits and pitch counts were not a factor.

Madson’s fastball / changeup combination speaks for itself. The stats Madson has posted and the situations he has helped the Phillies in deserve to be rewarded.

So I don’t care what kind of money the Phillies owe Brad Lidge. How much cash he earns doesn’t go side by side with how he pitches, so nothing should point in the direction that says Lidge should remain the Phillies’ closer.

It’s time for a change.



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