Analysis

Closing Options

This double post is brought to you by both Amanda Orr and Pat Gallen

Brad Lidge’s time as a closer must be numbered. After last year, Lidge has been given a free pass, but it’s time to rip it up. With nine blown saves, a 7.33 earned run average, and 1.80 walks and hits per innings pitched, he can’t continue to be the Phillies closer. The Phillies have other options.

When Lidge was on the disabled list earlier this year, Ryan Madson took over as closer.  However, he was also victimized.  Madson has of record of 4-4 and is 4/8 in save opportunities.  He has a 2.95 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.  He strikes out 9.1 batters per nine.  Overall, they are decent numbers, but most of his struggles have come as closer.  While trying to adjust to his new role, perhaps he tried too hard.  Giving him another chance is worth a shot.

http://philliesphorum.mlblogs.com/Brett%20Myers.jpgBrett Myers went down with a hip injury, but is recovering faster than expected.  There is a chance Myers will be back as a reliever.  He has closing experience, in 2007, when he went  5-5 with a 2.87 ERA.  He saved 21 games in 24 opportunities and opponents batted just .229 against him.  As a closer, he was a whole different animal, striking out 64 in 53.1 innings.

With this being his contract year, Myers would like to make an impact any way he can.  He has experience, and was successful at it.  He loved it, and was upset with the Phillies converted him back to a starter the following year. Myers should not immediately jump into the closers role, but depending on his outings, he could find himself in the ninth inning.

Chan Ho Park, Chad Durbin, and others could close, but they aren’t the best options.  They have been successful in the roles they are currently in, especially Park.  When J.C Romero returns, he would give the Phillies another option, but with the number of base runners he allows via walks, he probably won’t fare well.

Charlie Manuel wants to “stick to his guy,” but how many more blown saves will it take? After being the National Leagues’ best closer in 2008, Lidge has been the worst closer in baseball this season, sporting the most blown saves and highest ERA of any reliever. As long as Lidge is pitching the way he currently is, he can not close. The best option is Madson or Myers, once he returns.

-Amanda Orr

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We Will Miss You, Brad Lidge

This is in no way an obituary for our fair closer Brad Lidge.  It is, in essence, a kind reminder of what was, and what should be.

It’s not every season you can be perfect, but in 2008, Brad Lidge was just that.  To think that 2009 would be similar was justifiable, though not recommended.  Not in the fickle game of baseball.  Only certain closers can be counted on year after year after year.  Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and a select few have been able to relish the role in the 9th inning.  Lidge has not done that.

Last night against Pittsburgh, we witnessed another piece of confidence torn from the fabric of number 54.  Is there any left from here on out?

http://images.dailyradar.com/media/uploads/ballhype/photos_large/2008/09/30/Lidge.jpgLet us not forget the special things Lidge brought forth less than a year ago.  The anchor of a stellar bullpen nailed down games with ease, unlike anything Phillies fans had seen since Steve Bedrosian in the 80’s.  And even Bed Rock couldn’t hold a candle to what Lidge put forth.

Lest we forget, it’s a “what have you done for me lately” world we inhabit, and that same slogan holds true in baseball.  Brad Lidge cannot close games now.  At least not every game.  And while Charlie Manuel has gone through the manual on how to approach the subject, I’m afraid the options are limited.

My theory: closer by committee.  There are several able arms that have withstood the pressure in late inning situations.  With Madson throwing 98, Park on point, Eyre a shoo-in against lefties, and possibly a healthy and hungry Myers set to return, there are options here.  Go with the gut feeling.

If Madson matches up well against the hitters in the ninth, go his way.  Two lefties about to come up?  Call on Eyre.  Looking for a change of scenery?  Give Lidge a shot here and there.

Try this for the next month and at the end of September, come to a conclusion for the playoffs.  If a CBC still works, go with it.  If Madson is simply on fire, run with him.  If Myers jumps back in and remembers how to be a closer, then he can be your man.

Cholly is a smart individual; that much is certain.  The mind games he has attempted to play with Lidge have failed, but you cannot blame him for trying. In a similar situation with Jamie Moyer, Manuel and the staff made a tough decision on a guy who helped the Phillies win games.  Now, another decision like that has to be in the works.  It’s time for real change.  The Phillies have some room to maneuver here with such a large lead in the NL East.  So trial and error should not hurt any more than Lidge has.

We will hardly forget Brad Lidge’s magical season of a year ago.  However, that chapter is closed and its time open another.  Make it happen, Cholly.

-Pat Gallen

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