The Phillies Have a Lidge Problem

Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIAugust 26, 2009

PHOENIX - JULY 28:  Relief pitcher Brad Lidge #54 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the major league baseball game at Chase Field on July 28, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Phillies defeated the Diamondbacks 4-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

During the course of a 162-game season, every team faces a huge decision that could potentially shape the course of their season. These decisions can come from about 100 different areas.

For the New York Yankees, it was the decision to put Phil Hughes in the bullpen. For the Colorado Rockies, it was the decision to fire Clint Hurdle in May. Both decisions have come from opposite ends of the spectrum, but both changed the course of each of franchise for the better.

I think the Philadelphia Phillies are about to face a huge decision that might have a direct impact on whether or not they repeat as World Series champs.

Last night Brad Lidge blew his major-league-leading ninth save in a 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Lidge came into the game trying to protect a 4-3 Phillies lead, and just three batters later, the lead was gone and the game was over.

Lidge now has a 7.33 ERA, which amongst relievers with at least 40 innings pitched, is dead last in baseball. Everyone knew Lidge would blow a couple saves this year after going perfect in save opportunities last year, but a 7.33 ERA?

That is inexcusable.

"He’s our closer," Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said. "I've said it all over the place. That’s the guy who we’ve got."

I appreciate the loyalty Charlie, but at some point you have to realize there is a massive problem here.

I keep wondering how different Manuel would feel if the Phillies were in a dog fight to make the playoffs.

Perhaps Manuel is waiting for Lidge to turn it around, but in late August/early September, you are what you are.

Right now, Lidge is the worst closer in baseball.

If the Phillies decide to make a change, they have a couple of options. They could decide to use Ryan Madson, who filled in nicely for Lidge when Lidge went on the DL (four saves), or they could use the soon-to-be-returning Brett Myers, who closed for the Phillies in 2007 (21 saves).

The Phillies have the offense, and with the addition of Cliff Lee they have the starting rotation. Now they just need to get their Brad Lidge problem straightened out.

If they don’t, they might not make it back to the World Series.

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