11 Blown Saves, 11 Games to Play

lidge 0923.jpgIt is impossibly difficult to picture a Phillies repeat with more performances like this.

Charlie Manuel sees it, too.

“It’s getting tough,” he said following a 7-6 loss to the Marlins last night at Land Shark Stadium. “We’ve got to close the games out. When you’re winning a game in the ninth inning, the winning teams win those games. We’re not closing the games out. Everybody out there knows it.

“When you get right down to it you’re supposed to win those games. You’re supposed to win a majority of those games. I mean a high percentage of those games. Exactly what percent I don’t know, but it’s goddamn high.”

Brad Lidge blew his Major League-leading 11th game of the season. He is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA and 31 saves in 42 opportunities. Opponents have hit .305 against him. Since Manuel pulled him from a Sept. 8 game in Washington, he is 0-1 with an 11.57 ERA in five appearances. Opponents have hit .391 against him. In four appearances since Manuel returned him to the closer’s role, he is 0-1 with a 14.73 ERA and three saves in four opportunities. Opponents have hit .421 against him.

The Phillies were 79-0 when leading after eight innings last season. They are 75-10 this season.

“He was our closer last year and we signed him to be our closer now,” Manuel said of Lidge. “He’s struggling. But at the same time, it’s hard for us to close the game out. It’s tough. It’s kind of what we’ve got. I’ve got confidence in him. I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say. I pull like hell for him every time he goes out there, believe me. I guarantee you that.”

Manuel sees no clear alternative (apparently Tyler Walker is not a candidate), although I believe if Brett Myers were healthy he would be closing the next time the Phillies had a save situation. Myers is going to throw a bullpen next Tuesday, and he said he will be back before the end of the regular season. Right-hander Ryan Madson is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA this season, but is 1-3 with a 7.24 ERA and 8-for-14 in save opportunities.

“We’re waiting to see how long Brett is going to be,” Manuel said. “I mean, right now Brett’s not even in the picture.”

Lidge continues to maintain he can turn this around before the playoffs, but with each shaky appearance it seems less and less likely.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Lidge said. “I’m disappointed, but they hit the ball tonight. They did a good job. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get another chance to get something started again, but, yeah, I’m definitely frustrated a little bit at a loss, but I’m sure there are some things I can do better.”

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48 Comments

I’d pay nearly anything to see an outing by Lidge where he didn’t walk a guy. Batters hit, and that happens, but his walks are killing us. Notice that pulling him from the game in early Sept didn’t help anything, he’s been pitching worse since then. The starters, as good as they’ve been lately, aren’t going to throw complete games every time. Without a legitamate late inning answer we’re not going to go far in the playoffs, no matter how good the rest of the team is performing

regarding the earlier thread on Ruiz: Obviously Werth was not a serious solution but rather a way of demonstrating that we have no option behind the plate besides Ruiz. If Howard goes down, we can move Utley over and play Cairo, or put Tracy in. Is Utley or ROllins goes down we can replace with Cairo or Brunlett. We’d loose offense but defensively they make do. The outfield has replacements (fransisco, Dobbs, etc). Obviously, none of the replacements are as good as the starters, or they’d be starting themselves. We have noone, however who can replace Ruiz in any faccet of his game. None of the AAA options we have, not Bako, or Hoover can give us defense, offense or game management even close to Ruiz’s. WHile Bako may have been known for his defense in the past, and was Maddox’s personal catcher, I haven’t seen any of this defensive skill in games he’s played this year with us. At least Werth can hit.

You’re being ridiculous. Any of the other starters besides maybe Feliz would be more of a loss than Ruiz. You’re insanely overrating him. His vaunted “game management” is more or less a media invention since we have no real way of measuring that or even ball parking it. Bako is a downgrade offensively but that’s it.
Oh, and as I’ve said again and again, it’s time to start thinking about leaving Lidge off the playoff roster. He cannot get the job done in the closer or any other relief role. Then again, with all the injuries to bullpen pitchers, we don’t have that many left.

And most of these are as much Charlie’s fault as they are Lidge’s. It’s been obvious for a while now that Lidge, even when showing temporary signs of recovery (which itself is rare), simply doesn’t have the stuff he had in 2008, no matter how much he postures about it to the media. The manager who waits a few days and tries to sneak him back into the closer role ever other week is just as liable for these losses as the guy who blows them.

The problem is Charlie cannot see it. He needs to re-run the broadcast closeups to see the “deer in the headlights” look on Lidge”s face.

I hate this guy. This team would be steamrolling into the playoffs if it weren’t for this loser. Cut his ***. I hope he’s pitched his last pitch as a Phillie. We don’t need a closer that throws batting practice. Thanks for singlehandedly ruining the season.

I’m at a loss as to what the Phils can do. I don’t think they have too many other options @ this point. Anyone else seems like a long shot. Its so frustrating for us fans, I can’t imagine what the team must be feeling.

Phlyan: Chooch is one of the best catchers in the league. He knows how each pitcher pitches, great defensively, smart play calling, etc. His return is just as important as if one of the other starters (God forbid!) should get hurt.

Thanks phylan. I like Ruiz too, but let’s not get carried away. Losing Rollins, Utley or Howard would be a huge blow. I don’t know which games fij is watching, but if he thinks Bruntlett or Cairo can fill-in for any of them, he’s in another time zone.

Oh — he is.

And as for leaving Lidge off the playoff roster – if the guy isn’t the closer he has no purpose. If he is the closer, they won’t be in the playoffs long enough for it to matter. I’d think long and hard about leaving him off at this point.

Although Charley’s options seem limited for a new closer (because of the injuries), Phil’s management MUST make a decision for the good of the team. Lidge should be placed on the DL and removed from the clubhouse and the post season roster. Amaro should do this today, forcing Charley and Dubee to acknowlege the obvious and come up with a new solution to finish games. Charley has 11 games remaining to prepare the pitching staff for the postseason. If Eyre, Romero, and Myers are able to return, great…….if not, then he must work with what he has. Each pitcher should know that they could be called on for relief work to do what is necessary to win a game, including the starters if they are the best option. It is now officially crunch time. The magic number is 5, so just finish it and move on to the playoffs. The Phils have a possiblilty of playing up to 30 more games this season, and the players on this team will all step up and do what it takes to win. I say, turn ‘em loose.

bigride50, this is a great idea, especially about getting him out of the clubhouse. Can he be anything other than poison right now? I think just getting him out of there as an option would be a huge boost. Truly addition by subtraction. I can only imagine what it’s like in the clubhouse with him there. The rest of the team must absolutely HATE him. Did you see the body language of the other eight guys on the field last night after the last hit? He is ruining everybody else’s efforts by throwing batting practice in the ninth. I think the DL is the best answer right now. Get him outta there for his sake and for everyone else’s.

All this talk about Lidge. He is sucking all of the oxygen out of the room. How about Howard and his RBI totals? If he can give a push now, he can probably lead the league for the third time in the last four years. Phenomenal.

Right now, I’d rather see Eric Bruntlett closing than Lidge! Ok, maybe that is going a bit far ;o) But seriously, he HAS to be pulled out of that spot. Enough is enough. What looked like a lock for the post-season is in question only because of the closer role. And if they do get in, how far will they get without a closer? Not far.

Jenn
http://philliesphollowers.mlblogs.com/

I haven’t been outside yet today. But given the tenor of the posts here I most assuredly will have to be aware of being hit by a piece of the falling sky.

Brad Lidge blows. This is why the Phillies won’t repeat this year. Not every team can have a Mariano

Mule: Great post about me being in a different time zone. I got a great laugh out off that line.
I asked Todd to do some research into the difference in the teams winning percentage with different starting posistion players out of the line up. I’d be very surprized if the greatest difference isn’t when Ruiz is out. The only thing which may offset this si the fact that Lee pitched his first 4 games (I think it was 4) to bako. Those wins were all due to Lee and nothing else (ERA sub 1.00 in those games) I’mnot saying Ruiz is the best player we have, but that he is the most crucial to have in the line up. Other guys hit homers (4 with 30+) other guys steal bases, etc. But only Ruiz is trustworthy behind the plate for this team.

As for Lidge, at this point I’d try anyone as closer. I don’t understand why Tyler hasn’t been given a chance. he used to close and has been pitching very well lately. he can’t be any worse, can he?

Charlie is losing his grip. The leaders on the team have to get him behnd closed dooors and put their foot down about Lidge.

That was the worst last night. The team played a textbook game and Lidge just sucked all the air out of their effort. It’s time to just declare Madson the closer and see if he can handle it for the duration. The injuries are a fact of life, so there really are no other options. I would even suggest Pedro at this point, but his MO is that he is a slow starter, and they are going to need Happ in the bullpen because they have no lefties. It’s a shame because, outside of Lidge, I think this is a better team than last years’.

Yankees are on a whole other stratosphere than the Phillies.

f.i.j: Since Howard, Rollins and Utley rarely have days off, it’s almost impossible to measure the lineup without them in it. Bruntlett’s hitting .150 for Pete’s sake! How effective can they be with him in there? Ruiz being a catcher naturally has more off-days, and is thus easier to measure versus the backup.

But remember, how many good back-up catchers are there? Almost none, so any starting catcher makes his team better. Take any starting catcher out of the lineup and the team probably suffers, so I don’t think you can get an accurate read on Ruiz’ influence.
Besides, I think he saves more runs with his defense anyway.

Believe me Mule, I’m not a big phan of hs offense. His defense and the confidence the pitchers seem to have in him, however are first rate. From this time zone, Ruiz’s absence is missed greatly. Can you imaging going into post season with Bako and Hoover as the backstops? As for Howard, Utley and Rollins’ days off, I refer you to 2007 when Utley missed a month and the team didn’t suffer a great drop off (his best season ever in my opinion). Rollins missed two weeks to start last year and games here and there this year (benched by Manuel) and again, we didn’t suffer greatly. Howard is the Phillies iron horse and you’re correct, we can’t judge what happens when he’s not around. Again, not saying they’re not great players and indticate parts of this team, but without Ruiz this yeam seems lost. Just look at the last week or so and what happened.

I haven’t read all the comments so this may have been touched on already.

Lidge is terrible but here is what really really really pisses me off about him. Does he have to start every single hitter with a slider that you would throw in an 0-2 count? Now tell me why would any hitter offer at a first pitch slider that is in the dirt? Can you explain that to me? Someone? Anyone?

It all stems from him having zero confidence in his fastball. If he would just throw the fastball on a corner he’d be up 0-1 on probably 90% of the hitters he faces. No one is biting on the first pitch slider. The book is out and he just flat out doesn’t get it. And his demeanor on the mound is dreadful. He looks like an 8 year old in his little league championship game. This team flat out does not have a closer. I think Myers is still your best bet from a “not scared to grab the ball and dust someone up” standpoint but his health is such a huge question mark.

I haven’t read all the comments so this may have been touched on already.

Lidge is terrible but here is what really really really pisses me off about him. Does he have to start every single hitter with a slider that you would throw in an 0-2 count? Now tell me why would any hitter offer at a first pitch slider that is in the dirt? Can you explain that to me? Someone? Anyone?

It all stems from him having zero confidence in his fastball. If he would just throw the fastball on a corner he’d be up 0-1 on probably 90% of the hitters he faces. No one is biting on the first pitch slider. The book is out and he just flat out doesn’t get it. And his demeanor on the mound is dreadful. He looks like an 8 year old in his little league championship game. This team flat out does not have a closer. I think Myers is still your best bet from a “not scared to grab the ball and dust someone up” standpoint but his health is such a huge question mark.

And does Rich Dubee have a pulse? How does he get off on all of this? Where is his accountability? I would be holding a torch under his bottom if I was part of the Phillies brass. I haven’t seen a single quote from him during this bullpen meltdown. He can get credit for the starters all he wants but no one is throwing stones at him for the way this bullpen has been all year. And I don’t want to hear about injuries…those are part of the game. When your highly paid closer can’t get the job done for an entire season then there is something mechanically wrong. The mechanics in between Lidge’s ears are wrong too. Cole got the team chiropractor he wanted….it’s time to get a shrink on the Phillies staff.

Ruiz a bigger loss than Utley, Howard or Rollins. I am truly amazed. The hometown fans overrate him massively. He’s a fine catcher for this lineup, since we have plenty of other great hitters anyway, but his normally miserable offense causes people to overrate his defense and “game calling.” And “game calling” is pretty much crap anyway. The pitcher makes the final call on what he wants to throw, and nobody knows his repertoire better than the pitcher himself. Ruiz is great at blocking the plate, and has a good arm, but let’s not get carried away. “One of the best in the league?” Come on.

joed21, I think the problem is he can’t throw the fastball on the corner. He can try, and leave it over the plate, and let it get crushed, but he just doesn’t have the location this year.
In any case, Manuel has made it clear he’s going to stubbornly stick to Lidge come hell or high water, and it will cost us the chance to go deep into the playoffs. And it’ll be just as much his fault as Lidge’s. He’s lucky he has so much goodwill saved up from the city for 2008.

Oh and don’t get me wrong f_i_j/karen, I’ll be glad to have Ruiz back. I’m no fan of Bako. But I’d rather lose him than any other starter on the team besides Feliz.

Ruiz is a valuable player, if for no other reason that they have no othr option. And the phans should remember that, after Cole, he could have easily been the WS MVP. The guy is a real pro.

Phylan, think aboyut that statement. Let’s say we are in July. Ibanez goes down for a month. Problem-yes. However, we have solutions–Francisco, Dobbs, Stairs, Taylor, Brown. Same for Victorino or Werth. Infielder goes down, it’s a problem but we have Brunlett and his sh*tty offense (good defense though) or we have minor leaguers to bring up to fill the hole, or we pick up a quick fix like we did when Utley went down in 2007. Howard is out-major problem, but we can put stairs or Dobbs in and not loose much (if anything) on D and get some production at the plate. Ruiz goes down and we get-Bako and Hoover. Now think about which of those catastrophes is going to hurt the team most

I think we’re all saying about the same thing. Chooch’s value is of course is defense, play calling etc. His back-ups are weaker than those for the OF/IF.

Phylan: I’d add Rollins to your list also. His loss would be right up there with Utley/Howard particularly for his incredible gold glove defense.

Not sure why Charlie wouldn’t try Walker for a couple of games as the closer. He can’t be much worse than Lidge. Better hope our pitchers can go 9 innings! LOL???

Utley would hurt the most. Then Howard, then Werth, then Victorino, then Ibanez. The difference in production between all of those players and their replacements is much, much greater than the difference between Ruiz and his. I can’t even believe I have to say that but there you go. Losing Feliz would be less of a problem, but that’s it.

phylan, I know he can’t locate the fastball but that is the big problem. If you can’t locate a fastball at this stage in the game then you shouldn’t even be in the league. How can you not master that pitch?

As far as Manuel putting him back out there….I used to be really pissed that he kept running him back out there but what is he going to do? His hands are tied. No one is stepping up and taking over as the closer. Madson doesn’t have the mental fortitude either. They are all scared to do the job. Their last hope is Myers and that’s a thin hope.

No argument there, phan52.

phylan: Arguing with f.i.j. is like screaming at The Wailing Wall. He has his ideas and he’s locked in. Let’s move on.

It’s hard to quantify the loss of any one position player. The Phillies survived in recent years when players like Utley, Victorino and Ibanez went down and Rollins struggled. Hell, look where thy are with Lidge being the very worst relief pitcher in MLB.
I think it would hurt more to lose a near-the-top-of-the-rotation pitcher because of the resulting snowball effect. When you lose a top of the rotation pitcher, you not only lose him but you replace him with a player who couldn’t cut it before. Look what happened last season when Myers sucked. They didn’t really get their act together again until they signed Blanton and Myers came back strong in the second half. Losing a solid starting pitcher is harder to replace than anything. It is why Ruben was so pro-active going after Halladay and Lee and signing Pedro when the starters were struggling earlier this season. Can’t have enough solid starting pitching.

“No argument there” was in re: your 1:31 PM post phan52, not sure why the order keeps getting messed up on this site.

The Phils have the pitching depth to make lemonade out of the current lemons. This would involve thinking outside the box, though, and Cholly appears to be exceedingly happy sitting inside the box, even as it fills with water.

Here goes:

STARTERS: Hamels, Lee, Blanton, Pedro
RELIEVERS: Happ, Moyer, Madson, Condrey, Durbin, Walker, Kendrick (add Escalona if the Phils are carrying 12 pitchers; DO NOT put Lidge on the roster because Cholly will use him!)

Happ, Moyer, Condrey, and Kendrick all become primary relievers for particular starters. Pair ‘em up lefty/righty to flip any platoon guys – Hamels/Kendrick, Lee/Condrey, Blanton/Moyer, Pedro/Happ. Madson stays available to bail out the primary relievers, and Walker, Durbin, and perhaps Escalona can help out if anyone implodes. Happ is available for the first couple of games as a late reliever, and hopefully one of the starters goes deep enough in a game to free up another one of the “primary relievers” for spot duty.

I’ll agree to that Phan52. But given our pitching situation at present, let’s not jinx anyone, okay?

That’s not a bad idea, but you probably need one more spot guy, like put Condrey in that role too, since Lee is unlikely to need a safety valve.

12-pitchers- don’t know about some of phylan’s dirty dozen (pitchers) but here’s my quick take: Concur with starters (Lee, Hamels, Blanton and Pedro). The remaining 8, with hopeful current injury improvements, are lefties Romero (closer to ready than Eyre) and Happ, long relievers Park (yes he will be back) and Kendrick (Yes over Moyer who’s not pitched out of a true pen spot yet), situational guys Condry and Walker (he’s earned it), and Madson. That’s 7, and with Myers and Lidge left it’s tough to keep Myers of the list if he’s healthy. So, no Moyer, no Lidge, not in the first/ short series anyway. You got to have guys like Park and Condry mixed w/ Happ and Romero b/c both likely 1st round teams (Dodgers and Rocks) have equal power on both sides of the plate. Of course that would assume that Charlie would manage match-ups like that.

I think you’re in big trouble if you’re counting on Romero. He hasn’t done anything all year except bounce to the DL. Amazing that we’re discussing keeping Lidge off the roster. Not that I wouldn’t, just that I find it amazing.

I think the starters are stronger this year than last, so perhaps the bullpen won’t be as big a factor as it was in 2008. Still, it will be hard to win 11 games without a tested closer.

I mostly agree with your choices philtoni except Eyre is way closer to being ready than Romero. Romero is questionable to pitch again this year at all, and Dubee pronounced Eyre ready to pitch (albeit through pain) yesterday.

Thank you for putting Tyler Walker in parenthesis. All i’ve heard is that there is no alternative to Lidge. Well, there might be if you tried more than 1 different pitcher out for the 9th inning. The only other man he’s tried is Madson. Why doesn’t he try out Walker? At this point, what difference does it make? What difference does it make if Brad Lidge loses the game or if Tyler Walker loses the game? Give it a go, please, please give it a go

http://thepitchersduel.mlblogs.com/

Three things stuck out in my mind about last night’s blown save. (1) The mound visit by Bako just before the game-losing pitch. (2) The location of that 0-2 pitch. And (3) Charlie’s conversation with Bako right after the game ended……….I have a theory that Bako was most likely calling for a slider in the dirt and Lidge probably wanted the location off the ground because a wild pitch would also have ended the game. I think that is what Charlie wanted Bako to explain to him-why the pitch was anywhere near the strikezone with an 0-2 count on the batter. My point is that if my theory is right, I think Lidge would have thrown that slider into the dirt, had Ruiz been the catcher, but he doesn’t trust Bako enough to throw it with a guy on thirdbase, so I kind of understand why Charlie is still sticking with Lidge. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t agree with the decision. Too many things have to go right for Lidge to successfully close a game, but Charlie is the manager and none of the other 25+ players on the team are leaking any feelings of discontent to the media. If they are 100% behind Charlie’s choice of Lidge as closer, then I feel obliged to accept that as a Phan.

Whoever said or agrees that the Phils should force Lidge onto the DL is an idiot. The MLB’s contract with the Players’ Union would never allow that. But he can be left off the playoff roster like Adam Eaton was.

I agree with FIJ that Ruiz is irreplaceable in the playoffs. I also think that Ruiz’s absence in the playoffs would result in more losses than Lidge’s closing every close game in the playoffs…………..And phylan, you posted, “His vaunted “game management” is more or less a media invention since we have no real way of measuring that or even ball parking it.” Not everything that is essential for a championship team is measurable by SABERmetrics. Carlos Ruiz has the heart of a champion; he’s already proven that to us by his ’08 playoff performances. He calls great games and he fields his position better than any other catcher in the NL, with maybe the exception of the Dodgers’ catcher Martin.

erichh1: So, if Lidge is left off the roster and they go on to win the Series, does that mean that Lidge shows up in April to accept a ring and wave his arms in defiant glory? The only difference would be that we’d probably give Brad a standing ovation.

Anyone who tries to come up with a post-season pitching roster is simply wasting their time. There are toooooooooooo many injuries of unknown origin and/or length.

muleman, your FIJ posts about the timezone and the Wailing Wall were priceless!! Keep up the good posts!

How about Pedro Martinez (nasty stuff) or Happ (young and willing) as potential closers ?!?!?!?

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