Lidge Blows His Ninth, Still the Closer


lidge 0418.jpgYou’re probably asking yourself the question every other Phillies fan is asking today, “How long is this going to continue?”

Brad Lidge needed just five pitches to blow his Major-League leading ninth save of the season last night in a 6-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park. He is 0-6 with a 7.33 ERA. That not only is the highest ERA of any relief pitcher in baseball, it is 0.81 earned runs higher than Indians right-hander Jose Veras, whose 6.52 ERA is the second-highest in baseball.

“He’s got to stay with it,” Charlie Manuel said. “He’s got to keep going. I mean, what the hell? That’s all we can do. … That’s where we’re at. That’s our closer. I’ve said that all along. That’s the guy we give the ball to in the ninth inning.”

Lidge has been frustrated previously, but never as visibly upset as he looked last night. He looked beaten. He allowed a leadoff single to Luis Cruz, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Brandon Moss laced a single to right. Jayson Werth bobbled the ball and slipped as he tried to throw the ball into the infield, which allowed Cruz enough time to race around third base to score the tying run and Moss to advance to second. Andrew McCutchen then crushed a 94 mph fastball for a two-run home run to win the game.

“It’s frustrating,” Lidge said. “Obviously, I’ll take the ball 10 days in a row. I want to get out there and compete and get those guys out. Unfortunatey today it just didn’t happen. I didn’t have enough in the tank, I guess.

“I didn’t have anything on the ball tonight. The fourth day in a row for me historically has been pretty bad. I wasn’t able to make an adjustment today and I just didn’t have anything on the ball. I need to be able to make an adjustment if I throw four days in a row.”

Lidge pitched the final three games of the Mets series at Citi Field, but Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee felt that because Lidge threw 11 pitches Saturday, nine Sunday and 15 Monday — Lidge also warmed up Friday — that he could get through the Pirates lineup last night.

Lidge had pitched four consecutive days six previous times in his career: He was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA (three earned runs in five innings), two saves and two blown saves in those appearances. In Lidge’s four most recent appearances – twice this season, once last season and once in 2007 – he went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA (zero earned runs in 3 2/3 innings) and two saves. The other two appearances, which came in 2005 and 2006, he allowed five hits and three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. He went 1-1 with two blown saves.

Manuel supported his closer in his postgame interview, which is not a surprise. This team badly needs Lidge to straighten out before the playoffs, and questioning him publicly is the worst thing he could do. But is there a tipping point in this? If Lidge is still struggling with a week to go in the season, do they go into the postseason with him as their closer? He saved seven of their 11 wins in the 2008 playoffs, but Lidge’s continued struggles would jeopardize their chances at a second World Series championship. But I think there is a good chance they stick with Lidge.

Manuel has said a few times before: show me my options. But maybe he says that because Brett Myers is not back yet. If he returns from the DL and throws the ball well — I think Myers has to be dominant upon his return — he could put pressure on the Phillies to make a change. But Myers won’t rejoin the team until Sept. 1 at the earliest. Will he have enough time to convince the Phillies he is a better, more reliable option than Lidge? (Fans looking for Manuel to name Myers the closer upon his arrival should take a step back. That won’t happen.)

So I think two things would need to happen for Lidge to get bumped at this point: 1) something even more catastrophic than what has happened: a string of blowns saves that pulls the Phillies into a first-place tie with Florida or Altanta. 2) Lidge’s continued struggles with Myers looking dominant at the same time.

Until then I think Lidge is the closer.

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Lidge’s nine blown saves are tied with Steve Bedrosian (1986), Jose Mesa (2002), Ron Reed (1976) and Mitch Williams (1991) for the third most in Phillies history. Mark Leiter holds the franchise record with 12 blown saves in 1998. Dick Selma is second with 11 blown saves in 1970.

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50 Comments

Lidge shouldnt have been in the game in the first place. He already pitched 3 days straight and has been struggling to even get the lead off hitter out. What is Charlie thinking? we’re in first place, theres no need to send Lidge out there to pitch 4 days straight. Charlie should have Sent Park out there and hoped he gets it done. If he cant get it done like Madson, then that just adds to the many excuses that Charlie can say to the media that Lidge is still the closer. If Park got it done then thats great. we would get the win.

I agree, Lidge is so erratic these days then why risk it by sending him out there for a fourth day in a row (five if you count Friday’s warm-up)? It was easy to see with the first and second pitches that he had nothing in the tank. I’m all for Lidge getting shelved, but Manuel has to take some of the blame on this one. Now, with Cole going, we stand a good chance of losing two of three to these young Pirates that are happy to be playing.

Interesting note, Street did not close for the Rockies tonight as he was unavailable because he had pitched in 3 straight games.

Since Lidge’s performances when appearing four days in a row is a mixed bag shouldn’t tonights performance convince Charlie not to do it? Isn’t Charlie’s job to put players in positions to succeed? If I am not mistaken, this is the third blown Lidge save in a row where the Phillies otherwise stellar defense has made an error. Given these two factors, I am not sure Lidge’s performance tonight means anything other than what it is – a loss of little to no significance in the grand scheme of things.

Who invented the concept of “closer”? It seemed to evolve during the 1980’s. I’m not sure it is the best strategy for every team, every day, and I wonder if a new strategy will replace it someday, partially or wholly. Maybe we need Gene Mauch to come up with a new approach for the 2009 Phillies. He invented the double substitution in the early 1960’s. Surely he can solve this problem.

What I find odd is that managers avoid the righthand/lefthand matchup with relievers during the 6th and 7th innings and then give way to the set-up/closer strategy in the last two innings. In last night’s game, if it was the 7th inning, would Charlie have let a righthander pitch to the lefthanded hitting Moss? I doubt it; not with a runner on and nobody out.

This team has the potential to win the WS but Lidge is ruining it. Such a waste. Charlie won’t do anything. Isn’t that his job? I know the solution might be awkward but isn’t that what he is paid for? I am tired of hearing that “He’s our closer”. A 7+ ERA and 9 blown saves is not a closer! That’s not even a major league pitcher! That’s not even a little league pitcher! I’m sorry but I can not live through 1993 again. I can’t watch this team anymore. I can’t have that disappointment again. What a shame. Such a waste of an otherwise ridiculously awesome team. Guess I’ll put on my Eagles green and hope things go well there and cherish the memories of a great 2008.

I’m not sure Charlie has much choice on the matter. Last night maybe he could’ve gone with Park, but Lidge at the moment is the closer. He tried using Madson earlier in the season and it didn’t work. Hopefully Myers is an option come next month. It would be a nice insurance policy. Not sure if using closer by committee method is any better.

I thought it was interesting how they panned Werth walking in from the field at the end of the game. He seemed to be taking quite a long time to get to the dugout obviously contemplating his error. Then once he entered he left off a bit of steam by throwing something.

There’s loyalty and then there’s ignorance. You would think that with all the coaches the Phillies have, one of them would stand up and say, “Hey, Lidge isn’t doing what he did last year, let’s adjust, let’s make Madson the closer.”

Why wouldn’t Charlie have a choice? Sure Lidge is the closer who only rarely works four days in a row. Was this one of those critical times when it was imperative that he pitch due to such factors as the unavailability of an alternative? I do not think so. In 1993, Jim Fregosi lamely explained that he went with Mitch Williams because that is what he always did in that particluar game situation despite, I believe, the fact that it wasn’t the same situation because Williams had been over worked. I could be wrong on this last point but I do believe that was the glitch in 1993.

I, also, never understood these roles pichers suddenly aquired. What happened to the starter pitches until he is ineffective and is replaced by a relief pitcher who pitches until he is ineffective, and so on? Obviously there will be lefty specialists, and guys who can go longer then others, but if, for example, Madson comes in for the 8th and retires the side, why not start him in the 9th as well until he gets in trouble? What is bad about having a team with 4 pitchers with 5+ saves a year?

It’s hard to believe Lidge, or anyone, can be this consistently bad. I agree with Zo – that’s just how I think they’ll play it. If Lidge blows a few more and Myers looks real good, the change gets made. That’s the only real alternative. Not Madson, that didn’t work. Not Park, who is too valuable in his current multi-innings role. As for 4 straight days, this was the 8, 9, and leadoff hitter for the Pirates, for heaven’s sake. Not exactly murderers row.
One other comment – Ron Reed was great in ’76, as was Dick Selma in ’70. Blown saves can be deceiving. Sometimes.

Ok, warning…I’m grumpy. 1st off, bolenbak take a breath. Saying the chances to repeat are ruined already is ridiculous. Second, Charlie I love ya, but you blew it. Why in God’s name did you put Lidge in to save on Monday is beyond me. We had a 4 run lead. While that might have been a save, it was just barely. Lidge had already pitched two days back to back. So you wasted him on a 6-2 ballgame and then when we need him in a REAL save situation, he pitches like crap because he has gone 3 days in a row already. Third, look folks, we may all long for the days of yore when pitchers played 9 innings and yadda yadda yadda, but the fact is we ain’t going back to that, so just accept it. People in the system now have been trained and conditioned (both physically and mentally) for these roles and to switch them up is just asking for trouble. This is the state of the game so just sit back and relax. Ok? Alright, I’m done now. Sorry for my grumpiness.

debindixie: Lidge started the inning with a 4-run lead, so it was not a save situation on Monday. We second-guessed Charlie at the game. I don’t like using closers with big leads. At the time we said, “he’s pitching 3 games in a row. What if they need him tomorrow [Tuesday]?”
That’s what happens.

Deb, I know we can’t turn the clock back, but I’m still allowed to fondly remember theose days of real pitchers and real baseball.

At this point, if Myers can’t do it, I would turn to bastardo (if he’s healthy). His fast ball would be an asset as a closer, imagine how fast it would be if he only had to throw one inning. None of the guys currently on the team have the ability or mentality to close regularly.

Keep in mind in the last several games the defense for Lidge has been less than stellar. We all know that prior to the miracle “Triple Play” several errors occurred. Also last night Werth’s error was also a contributing factor.

Its really amazing how his performance has diminished from last year. We all know that he wasn’t going to perfect again, but to faulter so much this season is really something. Hamels with all his faults has at least shown some consistency.

karen: Granted, the defense hasn’t been spectacular, but even if Werth fielded that ball cleanly it’s still first and third. The runner only went after Werth dropped it, and at that, a good throw would have beaten him.
They’re hitting almost everything hard off Lidge, last night especially. Even the outs are loud.
As we’ve discussed ad infinitum here, he just ain’t right, errors notwithstanding.
I don’t know if Myers is the answer.

f.i.j.: At this point in the proceedings, I don’t think they’d go to anyone who isn’t already on the roster. To put Bastardo in the race and potentially the playoffs would be a huge gamble. There are other options rather than a guy they’ve already had up and down a time or two.
Real pitchers and real baseball are almost extinct. Cliff Lee makes me smile, but there are only a handful of guys in the league who have a clue. Most of them want to throw as hard as they can and have forgotten that major league hitters can hit 95 mph fastballs if they don’t move and don’t ever change speeds.

f.i.j.: Well then, those are the choices, like ‘em or not. You have to order from the menu, and there are no substitutions – not at this point.
Maybe they had a shot to get Sherrill at the deadline or maybe the Lee deal took as much of the farm as they wanted to give, but that would have been a nice addition too.
It’s a shame Romero has had so much physical trouble or I think he’d be a viable alternative. He seems to have the attitude at least.
I think we squeezed the life out of him last year.

Agree on the lack of real pitchers in today’s game, Mule, but if we look at the roster We have: Lidge-the cause for our worry, madson, who failed as a closer earlier and is very valuable setting up, Eyre-essentially a lefty specialist, Park, very valuable in long relief, or mid innnings, not a great choice as closer, Walker-let’s get real, the guys on the DL: let’s get them back first, and see if they have found the plate.

We basically have Lidge, Myers or a throw of Chollie’s dice

My position that the chance to repeat is over is not ridiculous. Have y’all not been keeping up on current events?? WE DO NOT HAVE A CLOSER! You can not win the WS without a closer. This is not the regular season where you get to beat up on the Nats and the Pirates and Padres. We’re talking some combination of Dodgers, Rockies, Yankees, Sox, Angels, etc. You lose, you go home. If Charlie inexplicably sticks with Lidge as the closer, it will be an early and very painful exit from the postseason for this team. It will be a gut-wrenching moment. It will make 1993 and Joe Carter feel like losing a regular season game in April. This team is so awesome and Lidge is going to ruin it singlehandedly. If not for Lidge this year, the national sports talk radio wouldn’t even be talking about the Dodgers or whether the SAWX are going to catch the Yanks or make the wild card or whatever. It would be about buying your tickets on Amtrak for the WS b/w Philly and the Bronx. That is what he has done. This team is like 30 over .500 if we had even an average major league closer. Can’t wait for football!!!

I’m still hoping Lidge can turn it around. I understand Charlie’s position and respect him for it because he has proven to all of us that he knows how to turn ball players into champions. Having posted that, I think somewhere along the line the concept of accountability HAS TO come onto play. Brad Lidge, while warming up in the bullpen, must tell someone that his stuff is dangerously sub-par and he can feel the difference. When his fastball was clocked at 93 mph, you knew that wasn’t going to be fast enough to get Pittsburgh’s minor league players out. Self- confidence is essential for a closer, but pride can hurt a team. Lidge has to be held accountable.

OK then bolenbak, see ya! Go watch your football and post your nonsense over on the Eagles web site. There will be plenty of room for negativity over there for sure.
As for 1993, there’s no comparison. The team hadn’t won since ’80 and that year we had our hopes dashed. They’re coming off a championship. They went from last in ’92 to first. Do you remember? I think you’re a Yankees fan anyway, so scram.
“Average major league closers” don’t save every game, so I don’t know where you get your 30 games over .500 stuff. Realize that last year was an abberation.
I prefer to take NJ Transit to New York. Amtrak is too expensive.

Hey muleman. I am not a Yankees fan, I am a Phillies fan so why don’t you scram? My comments are not nonsense. Obviously I am speaking with a little bit of hyperbole but I am not too far off. Are you saying that you want Lidge as your closer in the postseason? That this team can win with Lidge as the closer? Now that is nonsense. I do remember 1993, thanks. I watched, went to or listened to just about every game that season. I was heartbroken with the ending. The comparison is there. I guess the question is, do YOU remember 1993. How can you say there is no comparison. Really? None? Mitch Williams? Google that name and see what you come up with.

Why is there a need to try to tear down the Pirates by referring to them as minor leaguers?

First of all, while a closer is important, it is not as critical as, say, your starting rotation. With a 4some of Lee, Blanton, Happ and Hamels, we shouldn’t need the Pen before teh 7th hopefully. Our offense needs to score and not get into a close game-what they did last year so well.

Lidge has blown 9 saves and has 25 saves. He is blowing one in 4 or he has a 75% save rate. Not as bad as we thought. While we need a solution, the season and playoffs are a long way from being over

Pherris, not a need, just honesty.

Also muleman, lemme help you with some math. Lidge has blown 9 saves this year and let’s say for simplicity that the Phillies have lost 6 of those games. I’m just going with his 0-6 record for this which is simple and could be wrong because if he leaves with a tie its a blown save but the Phils could still win or lose in extras. But, again for simplicity, he has obviously lost 6 games and since he is the closer, those are blown saves as well. So let’s say he only loses 2 games instead of 6. Is that average enough for you muleman? The Phils are currently 72-51. Add 4 to the W column and you get 76-47 and voila!, 29 games above .500. So I was off by one when I said 30 but hopefully you get the point now that I have done the math for you.

f.i.j., blowing 25% of saves is horrible, especially for a team thinking it can win the WS.

bolenbak: I’ve been a season ticket holder since ’81 so don’t insult me with your suppositions. There is no comparison between 1993 and this season. Period. We were starved for a championship and the feelings weren’t the same. If this team gets to game 6 and ARod beats them with a home run, I’ll talk to you about comparisons. Don’t insult me by asking me to Google Mitch Williams. Google it yourself.
Spare us your hyperbole.

Lidge is a problem, yes. However, he’s been a problem all year and yet we still have a team that is near the top of the National League in Win/Loss record. So, any number of things can happen between now and the end of the World Series. I am confident that we win the division by at least 5 games, and I am confident that we won’t be swept in any series in the postseason. Beyond that, I’m just going to sit back, enjoy the ride and hope it ends in a parade again this year. Last year at this time, I would have pointed to more problems than what we have right now. Either way, the next couple of months should be interesting!

he’s blown 9 saves. that’s out of 123 games. That’s one blown save every 13.6 games. If every series goes the max, we’ll play 19 games. lets assume he blows one of them, based on the stats so far. Not exactly earth shattering. Howard going 0/series would be much worse, as would Hamels going 0-2.

Again, not that Lidge isn’t a problem, but he’s not going to be the reason we loose the series before we even finish the season

he’s blown 9 saves. that’s out of 123 games. That’s one blown save every 13.6 games. If every series goes the max, we’ll play 19 games. lets assume he blows one of them, based on the stats so far. Not exactly earth shattering. Howard going 0/series would be much worse, as would Hamels going 0-2.

Again, not that Lidge isn’t a problem, but he’s not going to be the reason we loose the series before we even finish the season

muleman, why are you so concerned with me? Do you like me? Spare me your insults. Focus on your own thoughts. I’ll be happy to discuss comparisons when the time comes because we could be headed there with Lidge as closer. I hope I am wrong. Season ticket holder since 81? Where were you in the 70s? Bandwagon guy?

i know closer by committee hasnt worked in the past but why not throw a couple different guys out there and see who responds best. give park a try or madson another try and maybe myers when he comes back. it doesnt hurt as bad when your up 7 games but if this continues you know hes gonna blow a huge game in october, a series changing blown save, then cholly will wish he tried something else.

f.i.j. – I’m sorry but I really don’t know where to start with the flaws in that analysis so I will just keep quiet. I have better things to do. Let’s just see what happens in October and discuss then. Hopefully there will be positive things to discuss. Bye.

This sounds very familiar to a similar story in the NFL a few seasons ago. Bears coach Lovie Smith said week after week “Rex Grossman is our quarterback” Well, eventually, ol’ Rex lost his job. I’ve seen many say that these losses don’t mean to much overall, then since they don’t mean that much, what could it hurt to try out someone else. I know Park is valuable in his multi-inning role, but like yesterday, he didn’t throw at all, he could have finished it off. What they should really do is throw stats out the window, who cares about a save, if there are lefty’s up, put in Eyre, righties, put in Lidge or Park or whoever, use whatever pitcher can get the job done, just get it done.

http://thepitchersduel.mlblogs.com/

bolenbak: Since you seem so interested in my credentials as a fan, I was there in ’64 during the 10-game losing streak, (I was at the Milwaukee game when Callison hit 3 homers) through the Connie Mack years and the “Skipper Lucchesi” era. I wasn’t able to afford season tickets until ’81, so screw your bandwagon junk.
I think you insulted me first.
Mostly, I’m offended by fans who think they’re GMs and opine as though what they say or think should be gospel. All you (or I) know is what we’re told. Your hyperbole and three exclamation point comments are nonsense until the results are in.

If the other 24 players on the roster support Lidge 100%, then so will I. The moment his pitching adversely effects team chemistry I’m sure Charlie will do something about it. So far none of his teammates have come out publicly and said anything negative about him. I think the “Lidge Puzzle” is the last issue this team has to resolve in order to become WSC ’09…..bolenbak, we’re all frustrated. You’re right: one guy is ruining the season for the whole team. But his teammates support him because they know they need him if they want to repeat this year. It’s a race against the clock. Don’t let your anger over one player make you miss the rest of this fantastic season the Phils are having. I love this team no matter what happens. You should too.

muleman, I don’t give a s**t about your credentials as a fan and I don’t care about your “resume”. I was venting my frustrations on this fan site (that is kind of what forums like these are for, right?) and you attacked me. Go back and look. You insulted me first by calling me a Yankees fan and questioning my math on where the Phillies would be if Lidge could close at an acceptable rate. I’m not a GM and don’t pretend to be and never implied that I was. I never offered solutions because I don’t know that there is one and who would listen who is of consequence on this page anyway? You’re an idiot and you are inconsequential. Shut up and keep your comments directed at me to yourself from now on.

muleman, You’re the man, or is it mule? Anyway, you’re a regular on Zozone, those of us who regularly read posts here don’t pay any attention to “front-runner” fans who only come in to ***** and moan and insult other fans. I recognize bolenbak’s name from the philly.com posts. The fans that post there are like that in general. That’s why I mostly stick to MLB.com for reading and posting comments. We know you know the Phils, so don’t waste your time trying to respond to his insults.

As much as Lidge is our closer, I believe that days like yesterday or today if a closer is needed would be the right times to try others, i.e. Park, just in case Lidge has a complete melt down, hopefully he’ll find his stuff and be great, but when he has gone 2 or 3 days in a row thats the time to try others, they can’t be concerned with offending Lidge, because its the team and not one player… I would hope regardless of how bad anyone gets on the team the other players would not publically announce their dislike….

bolenbak, you have a good reason to be angry about Lidge, but the only way to descibe a sports fan that stops rooting for his team because the team doesn’t look like it will win a championship is a front-runner. That’s why muleman insulted you. We all hate fair-weather fans that post stuff like that.

The million-dollar question: why is Charlie so adamant about keeping Lidge as the closer when he is so bad? I think it’s because he really believes that Lidge can return to last year’s form and that no one else is fit for the role. [Maybe Todd can help us get into the mind of Charlie Manuel.] He’s loyal to a fault but he is also a good judge of a player’s talent and potential. Who else can close for the Phils? Madson? He’s as inconsistant as Lidge is. Park? The Korean media will put so much pressure on him in such a high-profile role that he will wilt under the pressure of the game. Myers? Maybe, but not until September. Moyer? Eyre? Durbin? Romero? Walker? Conderey, if he comes back? Plus, there are NO closers out there for the Phils to pick up before the waiver deadline. So we see that Charlie is betting that Brad turns it around because he knows the Phils can’t win the ’09 WSC without a solid closer and the only one he knows about is somewhere inside the body of Brad Lidge.

Thanks erichh1. Suddenly he doesn’t care about my credentials after calling me a front-runner. I saw front-runners in ’80 and I saw them last year. I hate to argue with him, but I can’t help myself. He’s an instigator.
I’ll see you on Broad Street.

erichh1, I have never posted anything on Philly.com so stop spreading lies. So touching to see you guys sticking up for each other. That being said, I would like to call a truce. We are all Philly fans. I grew up in Philly and I went to the WS last year. Saw the Eagles at 1pm on Sunday and walked across the street to see game 4. It was the best Sunday of my life. Good to have generous friends. I am frustrated by this situation and I needed to vent. Don’t you listen to Philly sports talk radio? I don’t want this incredible team to be hampered by one issue that does not seem to have a solution. That’s all. Go Phils.

Also, of course I am still going to root for the Phils. I am watching the game right now. Even after last night, a crazy thing happened – the sun still came up! Can you believe it? Also, I know Lidge will not pitch tonight (for the 5th in a row) no matter what. He won’t, right? :)

bolenbak, sorry if it’s true you’ve never posted at philly.com. Maybe I saw your posts under the articles here. I don’t have anything against you. I don’t think muleman does either, but just don’t ever post about giving up on this team and not watching baseball for the rest of the year. Last year Jimmy had to explain what he meant by Phillie fans are “front-runners”. He used the term incorrectly, but it made a lot of us sensitive about fans posting “front-runner” kind of comments like you did.
Anyway, Madson blew a save. I hope that will end the comments that called for him to replace Lidge as closer. Ryan Howard’s new initials are MVP. Let’s have a kinder and gentler Phandom.

Fortunately Madson was able to redeem himself and get the “W”. Howard’s HRs are a thing of beauty. The sound, the height and distance are amazing (or majestic as the Majestic boat was passing the stadium) I thought they might be toast especially after leaving the bases loaded in the 9th. Nice to see Hamels have such a good game. Hopefully this will kick-start him for the rest of the season. I think its his best game in what seems like months.

Blow it he did. So there’s one “solution” that appears to be off the table. Nice to have Ryan Howard though, even if he blew me off to my face for an autograph when I met him…

Dude, you ain’t gettin’ respect from no one. lol

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