I remember in April of 2009 taking my Dad to a Phillies game with my brother and I. It was the first time he had ever been to Citizens Bank Park and had not been to a Phillies game since he took us to the Vet in the early 90’s.
As you all know, the Phillies were World (F) Champs. And at this point in April, Brad Lidge had converted 47 straight save opportunities. Well that night Lidge came in with a one run lead and left the game with the Phillies down by three. The streak was over. My Dad swore up and down it was his fault, and that he would never attend another Phillies game. Sadly, he has not.
The 2009 season was a rough one for Lidge (0-8, 7.21, 11 BS) and coming into 2010 there were a lot of questions still to be answered. Fans were wondering how he would bounce back to his ’08 form with his devastating slider.
The season started almost a month late for Lidge, who was placed on the DL at the start of April. In his first four appearances off the disabled list Lidge only allowed only one run and was one for one in save opportunities. Unfortunately his ailing elbow landed him on the 15-day DL once again mid May.
Again looking strong coming off the DL, Lidge collected nine saves in 13 chances although his July ERA was an even 6.00 and 5.57 for the season. But just as the Phillies were making their traditional playoff push in August, it appeared Lidge had righted his own ship and was steering it straight for the postseason. In 13 appearances, he was eight for nine in saves and posted a 0.73 ERA for the month. For August, he allowed onle one run, five hits and struck out 12 batters in 12.1 innings pitched.
With another 13 appearances for September and October, Lidge continued to stay hot as the Phillies took over first place. He was a perfect nine for nine in save opportunities allowing only six hits while striking out 13. His ERA was 0.79 and he finished the season with a 2.96 mark.
Lidge struck out more than twice as many hitter than he walked (52/24), only allowed five home runs and had a WHIP of 1.23 for the season. For a closer, I would have liked to see his walk numbers down but when your slider isn’t working some nights it is hard to get guys to chase.
Personally, I have always thought a closer should not factor into the wins or losses column and Lidge did great in this sense going 1-1. It was a huge turn around from his 0-8 in 2009. For 2010 he was 27 for 32 in save chances. For those scribbling numbers at home, that is six fewer blown saves than in 2009.
All in all, it was a great regular season for the Phillies closer. He put up some pretty impressive numbers in spite of two trips to the disabled list. He did endure his lowest inning workload since 2002, and I think this may have helped him. In ’08 he appeared in 72 games and then 67 in ’09. This is when we really started seeing the elbow issues come to the forefront. He appeared in 50 games for 2010 and opponents were only hitting .196 off him.
KIERAN’S GRADE: 8.6/10
PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 7.9/10 – Maybe I’m picking nits here – and yes, Lidge had a great season – but I could never feel fully 100% fine when he came into the game. His velocity was down greatly and his workload was down, too. He gave it all he had and that slider might be the best in the game, so I do applaud Lidge for a very good season. It just wasn’t great.
MICHAEL BAUMANN’S GRADE: 7.5/10 – In terms of numbers, Lidge in 2010 was closer to 2008 than 2009. But unlike 2008, when you didn’t even have to watch the 9th inning of Phillies games, I still felt myself getting that rising vomit feeling in my chest whenever he came into a close game. Couldn’t pitch worth a damn with men on base, but on the whole, not bad.