My brother is a huge Houston Astros fan, so I have been hearing about Brad Lidge for some time. Just imagine my euphoria when Albert Pujols hit that long run in the 2005 playoffs off of him. It gave me ample opportunity to heckle my brother, which I wanted to happen for quite some time, especially since Lidge had such an impressive start to his career. There is no way that home run only went 412 feet. I am not even sure it has landed yet!!!!
Sports Geek does not care about 2005, though. Neither do the Philadelphia Phillies and their passionate fans. They care about what happens in the 2009 postseason. Sports Geek asked Bleacher Fan and I to decide if the Phillies should have Lidge on their roster. This is relatively simple to me. You put the best players on the team. Right now, Lidge is not one of the best players. Therefore, in order to have the best chance at winning a second consecutive World Series, the Phillies should keep Lidge off of the postseason roster!
As Sports Geek said in the intro, Lidge has an ERA over seven (7.18 through Wednesday’s action). It has been stuck around that seven spot for much of the season. In his last ten appearances, he has given up seven earned runs. When I saw the Phillies and Braves play a month ago in Atlanta, a game that Lidge blew the save in, his ERA was at 7.27. In some sense, he has leveled off. But, leveling off with an ERA over seven is quite different than “leveling off” with an ERA under two. His command of his slider just has not been the same as it was last season and the location of his fastballs have been off.
Bleacher Fan is going to write that the Phillies need to bank on the postseason experience of Lidge from last year. What Bleacher Fan will not say is that his postseason experience happened in 2008, when he had essentially a perfect season. “Lights Out” Lidge has given absolutely no indication that he is anywhere near the Lidge of 2008. Therefore, it is appropriate to disregard last year’s postseason. Do not forget that before last season, he struggled both in the postseason (the aforementioned Pujols home run) and in the regular season as well (see 2006 when he had an ERA over five). He was not traded to Philly by Houston because he was dominant. He was traded to Philly because Houston saw something in his command that they no longer liked.
It is also important to mention that Lidge plays in Citizens Bank Park, which is very much a hitter friendly park. If Lidge is just a tad off, he will be exposed. You might be able to get away with being a tad off in the regular season from time to time, but you will not get away with it in the postseason. The teams in the playoffs are too good. The Dodgers, Cardinals, and either the Rockies or Giants will expose any weakness in the National League playoffs.
Manager Charlie Manuel likely feels some type of loyalty to Lidge, and he should. That is probably why he keeps giving Lidge second and third chances as closer. But, Manuel’s job is to do what is best for the team. Lidge is having a miserable 2009 campaign. The best thing for the team is to have Brad Lidge off the postseason roster. The lights should be turned out in 2009 for Brad “Lights Out” Lidge.