With a recent history of having one of the worst bullpens in the majors, Pat Gillick, the Phillies GM, made, once again, a genius move. By signing the former Houston Astros closer, Brad Lidge, Gillick, unlike many others, still saw a star in the recently struggling closer. Lidge proved Gillick right by putting up “Closer of the Year” numbers, going a perfect 41 for 41 in saves. Unbelievably that is not Lidge’s most impressive stat. Lidge's strikeouts per 9innings is a league leading 11.94, earning him the nickname "Lights-out Lidge". In the postseason Lidge is 5 for 5 in saves and has finished the game for every Philadelphia victory. In addition, many overlook the "Bridge to Lidge". With his nasty change-up and recently developed 95 mile per hour fastball, the 6-6 200lb Ryan Madson has been unhittable this post-season. Madson, who comes in during tough situations for the Phils, has only given up one run in 9.00 innings pitched this post-season. Stranding many runners, Madson has saved the Phils from losing many close games, setting up the closer Lidge. The lanky right-hander over the regular season was 4-2 with a 3.05 ERA and averaged 7.29 K's/9IP. Another Phillies’ go-to guy is the "softy" J.C. Romero. Romero, not the most accurate pitcher in the Phil’s pen, averaging 5BB per 9IP, is good at working the batter. Romero has proven that he is one of the best a producing that ground ball. Coming in for 4 of Phillies 9 postseason games Romero has only pitched 2.2 innings. This is because he is a specialist at getting those big power hitting left handed hitters to deliver that key double-play ball with runners on base to get them out of the inning. Romero's stats may not look like Lidge's or Madson's but he is definitely a clutch player in the Phil’s Bullpen. The Phil’s pen is rounded out by, Durbin, Eyre, Condrey, and Happ. This bullpen combined to post the lowest ERA in the National League.
The Rays have been notorious for scoring in non-clutch situations, putting up early runs in nearly all of their regular and postseason games. They do not accomplish this by old-fashion small ball but with the big home runs of Longoria and Pena. One of the most over-looked statistics of the Tampa Bay Rays is their inability to score runs with runners in scoring position. Not only were they in the lower half of the league in this statistic but last in the A.L. East division behind the Orioles and Jays. This is key for the Phillies bullpen because not only do the Rays not score well in the later innings, but Lidge, Madson, and Romero combined have not allowed a home run this postseason. What the Phils are going to have to do in the World Series if they want to win is keep their walks to a minimum. Walks turning into runs have been the only problem for this "almost" perfect Phillies bullpen. If they can do that, I think they shut down this young Tampa Bay hitting squad in this World Series. If not, it will be a repeat of the '93 Series with Mitch Williams and Joe Carter.
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