photo: Chuck Solomon/Sports Illustrated
The closer is historically the toughest pitcher on the staff, the one that gets the ball sometimes with the game on the line and he’s asked to stop the other team in their tracks and ‘save’ the game for the team. The Phillies closer last year was Brad Lidge, he was lights out everytime he got the ball. He had 41 saves last year without a blown save. That stat in itself is a great one, 41 games a pitcher appears in, and he doesn’t ever lose one for the team. We all will never forget 2008 that is for sure.
Fast forward to the present, and it’s a much different scenario. What came so automatically last year, is now gone in a flash. The memories of all the saved games continue, but now with the recent trouble Brad Lidge has had on the mound, the thought now has turned to ‘what’s wrong with Brad Lidge.”
If you listen to Charlie Manuel’s quote the other day about this he said something along the lines that ‘Brad just needed to get that one more out and he would be fine.’ Yes, if he did that he would have been fine, but he didn’t and now that one more out has the Phillies losing ballgames and getting people worried with the rest of the season this year regarding the Phillies closer. The truth is at this very moment things are not fine and Brad Lidge has 4 blown saves and we’re not even close to the All Star Break yet.
According to ESPN, Brad Lidge has 31 lifetime blown saves. This includes the 4 games already this year that he has ‘blown’ a save. So one could say within the first two months the 2009 season Brad has added to his blown save total in his career by over 10 percent already this season. In 2006 with the Houston Astros, Brad Lidge had 6 blown saves for the season in 75.0 innings pitched. In ‘06, he also saved 32 games for the Astros. In 2007 for the Astros, Brad had 8 blown saves for the Astros, and that was with 67.0 innings pitched. All of the games a pitcher gets a blown save doesn’t always translate to a loss, but a lot of the time it does. This year in 2009 as of yesterday’s game with only 19.2 innings pitched, Lidge has piled up 4 blown saves in which 2 games resulted in losses. The other two games, the Phillies managed to comeback and win the game. Sound the alarm, there is trouble in Philly city with Lidge. To say anything else is incorrect or an attempt to mask the problem.
Lidge is now 32 years of age, and the 9.15 era combined with 4 blown saves already has to raise eyebrows. We as Phillies fans don’t want to see this, it’s painful and brings back some of the memories of Mitch Williams. That is the double edged sword in being a closer, you can be so great at times, but when the tide turns against you… it’s so tough to swim to shore safely. Throw Lidge a lift raft, work on some of the mechanics of the problem or we may start seeing some other pitcher when it comes time to close the game out.