So Lights On Lidge blew another save last night. That makes 11 on the season. I just don’t know what to say about the man. He was a huge part of the reason that the Phillies are World Phuckin’ Champs, but this year he does not look anything like the guy who pitched us to and through the Series last year. Everyone seems to want to bitch about it and say “take the guy out of the closers role”, but what do you do? Injuries have depleted the bullpen so much that we really need Lidge to get his act together.
Charlie Manuel and Dick Dubee have a serious dilemma. Lidge does not have the stuff he had last year and we cannot go into the post-season with our current closer situation. Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.48 ERA and 31 saves in 42 opportunities. Opponents have hit .305 against him. Even with all these negatives going against him Uncle Chuck is sticking to his unloaded guns. Here is the quote after last nights game –
“He was our closer last year and we signed him to be our closer now. He's struggling. But at the same time, it's hard for us to close the game out. It's tough. It's kind of what we've got. I've got confidence in him. I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That's about all I can say. I pull for him every time he goes out there, believe me. I guarantee you that."
Really Charlie? He has had an entire season to get right and he has not done so. Charlie can say whatever he wants to the media, but I know deep down that Charlie wants to win, above all loyalties. I believe that there will be a change in the closer role. There has to be if the Phillies want to make any kind of run at a repeat. So who are your alternatives?
He has the stuff to be a closer (mid-90s fastball, devastating changeup), but it seems that he doesn’t have the mental makeup to be a closer. He is 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA this season, but is 1-3 with a 7.24 ERA and 8 for 14 in save opportunities. That has trouble written all over it. I think that the Ryan Madson closer experiment has come to a end.
Brett Myers was my clear cut favorite before he came back from the hamstring injury. He came back on Sep. 5 only to break down with strained back 7 days later. In my opinion he was pitching too much coming back from the injury. Myers made his first appearance on Sept. 5 and then pitched five times in the next seven days. Some of the appearances were more than one inning. Brett has been in the closers role before and he enjoys doing it. He is also pitching for a contract so that red-neck knows what is on the line. If healthy I think that he would be Charlie’s first alternative.
I hear a lot of people saying Pedro and closer in the same sentence. I say NO. Pedro has been a pleasant surprise in our rotation. He signed a $1millon deal and let’s be honest we didn’t expect much from him at all. He worked out of the bullpen in the WBC, but I just don’t see it happening here. I think that he may snag a start if any of our series in the playoffs go the distance, but closer, I think not.
In my opinion the most interesting candidate for the closers role. My man has went from losing out on the 5th starter spot to CHP to being on the verge of winning the NL Rookie of the Year award. And now he may be pushed to the bullpen for the playoffs. I think no matter what happens with the closer role JA Happ will be in the bullpen so why not give him a look in the 9th inning. Ever since I first seen him pitch the thing I have been most impressed with is his poise on the mound. He has great focus when he is pitching and no matter the situation he always has the same demeanor.
I know that it is a long shot that Charlie will look at JA Happ, but the Phils are in a serious bind. There are only 11 games left and I do not want to see Brad Lidge in any of them. The Phillies have given him more than enough time to "right the ship" and the only thing Lidge has done is gotten worse. If there is a save situation Charlie should make a call to someone else. Not Lidge, Not Madson. I would like the Phils to take a long hard look at JA Happ. He has composure on the mound and he can get people out. As I said above Brett Myers was my choice for obvious reasons (experience, contract year), but there are too many questions regarding his injuries. So now I turn to JA Happ. Get some.