Lidge's awful performance forces DL trip

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Unlike the Mets with Oliver Perez, the Phillies didn’t dream up a knee
injury to excuse putting Brad Lidge on the DL — the inflammation is
real and has bothered him since April. Still, this is all about lousy

Pretty much everything has gone wrong for Lidge since he closed out the
2008 World Series. He complained of forearm tightness during the spring
and didn’t make his Grapefruit League debut until March 17. He was
generally ineffective over the rest of March, and while he did convert
his first three save chances of the regular season, he gave up runs in
two of them. On April 18, his run of 47 straight save conversions (54
including the postseason) ended when he gave up four runs in a loss to
the Padres. Since that date, he’s blown six of his 16 chances. He’s
allowed runs in 13 of his 28 appearances this season, and his ERA
stands at 7.27.

What worked for Lidge last year just isn’t this season. In 2008, he
threw his slider more than half of the time for the first time in his
career. He was doing the same thing this season, but hitters were doing
a much better job of laying off it and waiting for fastballs. It’s no
secret that Lidge doesn’t throw quite as hard as he used to, but that’s
not just a fastball issue. His slider, which once averaged 88 mph, is
down to 85 mph now, giving hitters more time to let it go if it’s a
ball or foul it off if it’s a strike. He still gets his fastball to the
plate at 92-95 mph, but without a lot of movement, it’s a hittable

Just look at what’s happened to Lidge when he’s not getting ahead of the count and keeping the hitters honest:

After 1-0 – .271 AVG, .374 SLG in 131 PA
After 0-1 – .130 AVG, .179 SLG in 136 PA

After 1-0 – .354 AVG, .833 SLG in 60 PA
After 0-1 – .226 AVG, .321 SLG in 57 PA

Lidge isn’t as good as usual in slider counts either, but when
hitters can guess fastball, they’re feasting off him. Six of the seven
homers off him have come after 1-0.

I’m not sure what’s next, but I think the DL stint was past due;
Lidge badly needs some time off to think about things. His stuff is
still plenty good enough to get outs. The loss in velocity is quite
real, but there was a bigger drop-off prior to 2008 than there has been
since. Given time to work on his delivery and maybe attempt to hide his
slider a little better, he has a chance to come back and reemerge as a
shutdown closer. In the meantime, the Phillies will be just fine in the
ninth inning with Ryan Madson. Getting to him in the seventh and eighth
could be a problem, but at least they have J.C. Romero back from his

Clayton Kershaw can win in the postseason! Who knew?

Clayton Kershaw
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Sometime after their Game 2 loss to the Rangers last week, the Blue Jays decided they trusted Marcus Stroman more than Cy Young candidate David Price in a potential Game 5 start. Such is the power of a postseason slump.

It can lead to one of the best hitters in the world being dropped to the eighth spot in the lineup. It can lead to quality regulars sitting at highly irregular times. In the postseason, what you did yesterday matters 10 times as much as what you did last month, usually not for the better.

Fortunately, Clayton Kershaw never had to worry about being skipped because of his postseason struggles. Even calling them struggles overstate the reality. In his previous three postseason starts, Kershaw had:

  • Allowed two runs over six innings in Game 1 of the 2014 NLDS against the Cardinals before being left in to give up a whopping six runs in the seventh
  • Pitched six scoreless innings on three days’ rest in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS before giving up a three-run homer in the seventh
  • Allowed one run over 6 2/3 innings in Game 1 against the Mets before his two inherited runners came around to score off the pen
So, yes, Kershaw entered Tuesday’s outing against the Mets with a 4.99 postseason ERA, but he had turned in six quality starts in nine tries, allowing one earned run or fewer three times. It wasn’t nearly regular-season Kershaw, but it also wasn’t as bad as the ERA suggests, not when he’d been the victim of slow hooks and lousy bullpen support.

And, really, Tuesday’s win over the Mets didn’t seem much different at all than Kershaw previous couple of postseason starts, at least through six innings. Maybe the fastball was amped a bit. The real difference this time was that he made it through the seventh. Best of all, since he was on three days’ rest, Don Mattingly wasn’t tempted to send him back out for the eighth at 94 pitches, as he probably would have done had Kershaw been on normal rest. The bullpen took over and turned in two hitless innings in the 3-1 win, sending the NLDS back to Los Angeles for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday.

It’s completely unnecessary redemption for Kershaw, who had nothing in need of redeeming. But it’ll keep the trolls quiet for now and also all winter if Kershaw doesn’t get the chance to pitch again. He’d surely prefer to risk the chance of failure again next week in the NLCS.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers top Mets in Game 4 of NLDS to force a Game 5

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

There will be a decisive NLDS Game 5 on Thursday evening in Los Angeles.

Clayton Kershaw yielded just three hits and struck out eight batters over seven innings of one-run ball and Justin Turner hit his fourth double of the series — a two-run poke down the left field line in the top of the third inning — as the Dodgers defeated the Mets 3-1 in Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday night at Citi Field.

Kershaw’s past postseason demons peaked their head out when Yoenis Cespedes reached on an infield single to lead off the bottom of the seventh, but there was no Matt Adams or Matt Carpenter to make him pay this time around. Kershaw retired the next three batters in order and then gave way to reliever Chris Hatcher for the eighth inning having thrown 94 pitches on short rest.

The only run Kershaw allowed was on a Daniel Murphy solo shot in the fourth inning. The other two hits he surrendered were singles.

Los Angeles’ bullpen answered the call after Kershaw’s departure, with Hatcher and closer Kenley Jansen combining to post two big zeroes on the scoreboard in Queens. Jansen secured the final four outs, earning his fifth career postseason save and second this October.

Jacob deGrom is lined up for the Mets and Zack Greinke will be on the hill for Los Angeles in the loser-goes-home tilt Thursday at Dodger Stadium. This series is shaping up to be a classic.

The winner Thursday will face the Cubs in the National League Championship Series.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.