The story of Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge is an interesting one. He broke onto the scene with the Houston Astros in 2003 as a relief pitcher and was impressive enough to earn a fifth place vote in the Rookie of the Year award standings. He followed that campaign 29 saves in 2004 and an eight place finish for the National League Cy Young award. Then, in 2005, he anchored one of the best pitching staff’s seen in the last 20 years in the National League with a 2.29 ERA and nearly unblemished record as a closer and an impressive 13.9 strike outs per nine innings.
Then, Albert Pujols happened. In game five of the National League Championship Series in the 2005 postseason, Brad Lidge hung a slider up in the zone, a pitch Pujols deposited 412 feet away on the train tracks at Minute Made Park. That one pitch foreshadowed a surprising collapse for the All-Star pitcher.
In 2006 Lidge took five losses and also had an ERA over five. He allowed 47 runs that season and saved 32 games. The next season was much worse, saving a mere 19 games, though he did lower his ERA to 3.36.
But, that was enough for the Astros to not resign him. No longer willing to put with the up and down nature of the pitcher’s career, he was cut loose. The Phillies took a flyer on him in the offseason. Man, was that a good decision.
Lidge put together a dream season in 2008. He was nearly perfect, posting a 2-0 record and a tiny 1.95 ERA on the way to a perfect 41 out of 41 save opportunities. He was the back of the bullpen, the trusted anchor to hold any potential lead. He was a starter’s best friend.
But, when the calendar turned to 2009, Lidge’s career turned along with it. The 2009 season has been a nightmare for Lidge, as he has recorded a career high seven losses, a career high 7.18 ERA, and a career high in home runs allowed of 11 in just 60 appearances.
Lidge’s struggles forced the hand of Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel who demoted the All-Star closer from his role and replaced him with Ryan Madson. Madson has performed adequately in the role to close out the 2009 season, but he has never performed under the intense pressure in the World Series like Lidge has… plus he has blown two saves in his short tenure on the bump in the pressure inning.
The Sports Debates is here to help Charlie Manuel manage the team. When rosters are trimmed to 25 for the postseason, what should the Phillies do – add Lidge to the postseason roster as the closer, or leave him off in place of another more reliable pitcher?
Bleacher Fan will argue that the Phillies should keep Lidge on the postseason roster, and Loyal Homer will argue that Lidge’s days as Phillies closer are over because he is too much of a risk.
Batter up, debaters! What is the next chapter of Lidge’s roller coaster career? Does he belong on the Philadelphia Phillies post season roster, or is that move too risky?