Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lidge Must Keep Closing

Not since the days of Randy “Boom Boom” Lerch have Philadelphia Phillies’ fans been forced to endure a sustained look at a pitcher so obviously failing as the erstwhile closer Brad Lidge.

Lidge has been terrible from the get go, terrible consistently, terrible month to month- almost Jimmy Rollins’ terrible.

But I’m inclined to keep on running Lidge out there.

At this point the Phillies season has degenerated into a clock-watching exercise- run the season out, stay healthy, get ready for October.

The latter goal- October baseball- is what Lidge is about now and not some forgetable game with the Pirates. The Phillies need a back of the bullpen solution- and Lidge is both the most credible and bring the most upside: a lights out level. And I’m willing to blow a few more games over the next forty to keep giving him every chance to get right. If the Phillies large lead gives them some flexiblity, “Lidge as Closer” seems to me to be the most worthwhile roster experiment going.

The most credible alternative, “Brett Myers as Closer” isn’t ready yet. Plus, twenty games is more than enough to have Myers audition six, seven times for the role if the Phillies decide to pull the plug on Lidge in mid-September. But since the Phillies don’t have to exercise that option until then, why not use this cushion to try and get Lidge right for the only part of the season that counts now? Plus, the Phillies are on the hook for this guy for tens of millions of dollars going forward. Bench him- and that money takes a not insignificant step toward being dead.

The Phillies could try Madson again. But that definitely weakens the set-up role for a not so sure shot as strengthening the closer role. After the first failure, he is an emergency option- so let's wait for the emergency and hope then, rather than lose the classy set-up guy who can go both ways.

And Lidge does show flashes. He was out there for the fourth straight night because he got outs the previous three. So I’m inclined to take a lesson from this: no more back to back to back outings, give him a day off and send Lidge back out there again.

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