Lidge is Manuel's Man
Since he blew consecutive saves against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 23-24, Lidge was perfect in five save opportunities. In 4 2/3 innings, he had allowed just one hit and one walk. He had struck out five. Opponents had hit just .077 against him.
He looked good.
But then Pedro Feliz boots a ball with two outs Friday, which leads to Lidge blowing a save Friday against the Dodgers. Rafael Furcal then hit a pinch-hit solo home run to right field Saturday, which leads to another blown save.
Suddenly, everybody is asking about Lidge again.
“He’ll always be my guy,” Charlie Manuel said. “His stuff is good. There’s nothing wrong with his stuff. His stuff is good. … I think it’s important for him to keep his confidence. I think the opposite of how some other people think. My way of thinking is if you rest him or do something else with him or put him somewhere else, I think that can hurt his confidence. I’m speaking right from my heart. That’s how I look at it because I played 20 years. I think I do know a little bit about it. His stuff is still good.”
Lidge remains the closer. Ryan Madson remains the setup man.
I don’t disagree with Manuel, especially after the way Lidge had been throwing since Yankee Stadium. Especially after Feliz booted that ball Friday. If Feliz catches that ball Friday and Lidge still blows the game Saturday, I don’t think there are people calling for Madson to close.
“It has to be location,” said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, asked about the difference between Lidge this season and last season. “Last year he was unhittable. I don’t know if anybody has gone as perfect as he did last year. But human beings play this game. His stuff looks good. It looks quality. He makes good pitches. Right now he’s just going through a bad streak.”
That said, you have to wonder about Lidge’s confidence. Lidge is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA and 13 saves in 19 opportunities in 28 appearances. His ERA is the seventh-highest in baseball amongst relief pitchers. His 68.4 percent save percentage is the lowest in baseball amongst closers with at least 10 save opportunities.
“The results are starting to frustrate me,” he said. “It just seems to be one thing. Tonight it was the slider he hit. I don’t know. I feel good, but I know something needs to change in terms of results. You’ve just got to get it done, and right now for whatever reason it’s not happening.”