What is wrong with this picture? One Philadelphia Phillies’ hurler has dominated time after time he has been called upon out of the pen. Another, with a long history or success and coming of an unequaled run of 48-for-48 in converting saves last season (including the playoffs) has been pitching so poorly that he has made Troy Percival and his 6.35 ERA and 1.68 WHIP actually look palatable – and it ain’t.
On Sunday, Brad Lidge blew yet another save chance, his fourth of the year, though the Phillies did come back to beat the Yankees in extra innings (4-3 in 11). How bad has Lidge been? About all you need to know is that he allowed one run in his inning of work, that’s a one day ERA of 9.00 folks, and his overall ERA actually dropped 0.01 down to 9.15. That’s just awful. The outing against the Yankees also continued what must be considered the worst month of his career. Just take a gander at just how pathetic Lidge has been this May.
Though he has four saves, he also has three blown saves and has a loss.
If that isn’t bad enough, check out the ratios.
10.64 ERA, 2.36 WHIP, 6.55 K/9, 1.00 K/BB in 11 IP
That spells U-G-L-Y in any language.
Certainly Lidge has been a force in the past, and he had a huge hand in the team capturing the title last season, but at the same time what you did in the past really doesn’t matter – this is a what have you done for me lately game. Lidge, who has allowed a least a run in eight of his last 11 games and 10 of 15, clearly doesn’t deserve to pitching in the ninth inning, and in fact you could certainly make the argument that he doesn’t even belong on the staff right now. His knee has given him some trouble this year, and whether or not that is the reason for his recent struggles, the club would be better off just saying that it is and placing him on the DL as perhaps some time away would allow him to fix what ails him.
Another reason this makes sense is that setup man Ryan Madson he been tremendous this year. In addition to the nine holds he has recorded, Madson owns a 2.95 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.70 K/9 mark and a strong 3.83 K/BB rate. Those are the numbers of a borderline elite closer my friends. Even better, he has been consistently solid allowing a run to score in just one of his last 15 appearances. In addition, after averaging 91.7 mph on his fastball in his career, he bumped that number up to 92.9 last season. Not content with that increase, Ryan has taken things to a whole other level this season with an average fastball of 94.9 mph (his slider is coming in at 89.9). Good luck hitting that when his control is on.
Look, I’m not one for making snap decisions or for bailing on a guy that has proven over the years to be good at his job, but at some point you have to look at what is right in front of your face an honestly assess the situation, something they clearly aren’t doing in Philadelphia. Sooner or later they will be forced to admit what is visible to anyone who has seen him pitch or has looked at the results: Brad Lidge should not be closing for the Phillies right now because of his profound struggles. With Ryan Madson pitching so well it just doesn’t make any sense for Philly not to make the switch to Madson in the 9th until Lidge is able to figure things out.
By Ray Flowers