It’s Time to Leave Lidge Alone
With all of the behind the scenes work — see next Saturday’s post for details of something fun and exciting coming to Seamheads — and other writing I have done for the postseason, I have run out of time to do the research that I usually like to do for my Seamheads article.Â But I always have an opinion.Â In this case…
LEAVE LIDGE ALONE!
Back in ’05, Lidge had a rough postseason.Â He got torched by Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the NLCS and blew a save in a game that would have clinched the series for the Astros.Â Most forget that the Astros went out in Game 6 and advanced to the World Series anyway.Â In the World Series, Lidge took two of the four losses as the Astros were swept away by the Chicago White Sox and at that point Lidge became known as a postseason liability.
Gone was his excellent performance in the ’04 NLCS where he made four appearances, pitched eight innings of scoreless ball, picked up a win and two saves and pitched three scoreless innings in a Game 7 that the Astros eventually lost… but not because of Lidge.
LEAVE LIDGE ALONE!
Lidge had two mediocre (at best) seasons with Houston before he was traded to the Phillies in the offseason.Â All season, Lidge was “lights out” for the Phillies.Â He converted all 41 of his save opportunities.Â Occasionally, the save wasn’t smooth.Â A few of them were downright nerve racking.Â The 16th save was thanks to a perfect strike from Shane Victorino to nail the tying run, Gregor Blanco, at home.Â The 41st save — the one that clinched the division for the Phillies — was supported by a diving double play by Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded.Â He did have 14 “one, two, three” inning saves and currently owns the second longest regular season consecutive save streak in Major League history.
But it’s the postseason now.Â And Brad Lidge is bound to return to the Lidge that was taken deep by Pujols in Game 5 of the NLCS in ’05, right?Â At least that’s what my cell phone would tell you.Â Since the Phillies advanced to the postseason, Lidge has entered five games.Â All have ended in wins for Philadelphia.Â The first one was rocky.Â The last one saw the tying run reach base.Â All five of them saw my cell phone blow up with text messages:
“Lidge is going to blow it!”
“Welcome back, choker”
“It’s Lights Out for Lidge this time.”
“Lidge will prove he’s not a big game pitcher.”
If you think Lidge is going to blow a save every time out, eventually, you will be right.Â With four postseason saves in four tries in ’08, the statute of limitations on “I told you so!” has passed, though.Â Odds are Lidge will not make it through this postseason perfect.Â Even Mariano Rivera, the greatest postseason closer in the game, has six blown saves to go with his Major League record 34.Â Lidge only has 10 saves but it’s already good enough for fifth on the All-Time list.Â Two more and Lidge moves to third behind only Rivera and Dennis Eckersley — 15-for-17 in save opportunities with three losses and a plaque in Cooperstown.
All Lidge has done in his postseason career is save 10 games, post a 2.40 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and hold opponents to a .190 batting average.Â His biggest mistake was a home run to Albert Pujols… possibly Cooperstown-bound Albert freakin’ Pujols!Â Scott Rolen?Â 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.Â Chipper Jones?Â 0-for-2.Â Nomar Garciaparra?Â 0-for-1 with a strikeout.Â At some point, the guy deserves a little more credit than he usually does for his postseason performance.
The argument here isn’t that Lidge is a great closer, he’s had his moments but great may be too strong of a word.Â The argument isn’t that Lidge is the best closer in the postseason this year.Â So far, Jonathan Papelbon’s postseason track record is beyond Lidge’s.Â The argument is that Lidge has earned a little respect.Â At this point, he deserves it… even if he blows one again.
LEAVE LIDGE ALONE!