Time for change: Phillies can't rely on Lidge

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lidge_090908.jpgBefore Tuesday’s game against the Nationals, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel spoke glowingly of his embattled closer Brad Lidge, saying “I want him to realize how much confidence we have in him.”

Lidge repaid his manager by going out and vomiting all over that confidence, allowing a walk, a single, and a hit batter before Manuel went to Ryan Madson to finish off the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

Now the Phillies’ closer situation is shrouded in confusion and frustration. Here’s what Lidge had to say: “If there’s a save situation tomorrow, (Manuel) said he was going to bring me in.”

And here’s what the manager said: “I’m not saying that he’ll close tomorrow, the next day or whatever, but I look at him as a closer.”

So what now for the Phillies?

One thing is for sure, they can’t rely on Lidge come playoff time. The man who was perfect in 2008 has reverted to the pitcher who was run out of Houston, only worse. Much, much worse.
Lidge is 0-7 with a 7.11 ERA, and has converted saves in only 28 of his 38 opportunities. In 50 2/3 innings this season, he has allowed 60 hits and a whopping 32 walks.

Phillies fans are beating the drum for a change, and they’re absolutely right. This is simply too good a team to let one struggling player sink the ship. The offense produces the second most runs in the NL and the starting rotation is solid and deep, with plenty of playoff experience.

Luckily, they have options. Madson would be one possibility. Another would be Brett Myers, who has tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief – including 1 1/3 on Tuesday — since returning from the disabled list. Even better, he has had extended success in closing, saving 21 games and striking out 83 in 68 2/3 innings in 2007.

Myers, Madson … whatever. It’s time for a change. The sooner, the better.

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If you Twitter, and think it’s fun to pick on David Bell, follow me at @Bharks.

Diamondbacks place Shelby Miller on the 10-day disabled list

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The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that starter Shelby Miller has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow inflammation. Miller will get a second opinion on his elbow on Tuesday, per MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. Pitcher Silvino Bracho has been called up from Triple-A Reno to take Miller’s spot on the roster.

Miller, 26, left Sunday’s start with what was described at the time as forearm tightness. Through his first four starts, Miller is carrying a 4.09 ERA with a 20/12 K/BB ratio in 22 innings.

Bracho, 24, has pitched quite well in 6 2/3 innings of relief at Reno. He’s given up just one unearned run on four hits and a walk (intentional) with 12 strikeouts.

Archie Bradley figures to take Miller’s spot in the starting rotation as Bracho will work middle relief.

Eric Thames hit two more homers

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And John Lackey is livid.

The Brewers’ first baseman homered in each of his first two plate appearances against Reds starter Amir Garrett on Monday evening, helping his team to a 6-1 lead after two frames. The first was a solo blast in the first inning, and the second was a two-run shot to the opposite field in the second inning.

According to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, Thames has tied the Brewers’ record for home runs in April with 10. Carlos Lee also hit 10 homers in April 2006.

Seven of Thames’ 10 home runs have come against the Reds. Including his first two at-bats on Monday night, Thames is hitting .379/.474/.924 with 17 RBI along with the 10 dingers. Not too shabby from a guy the Brewers signed to a three-year, $16 million contract during the offseason.

Lackey and Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio both recently implied Thames is using performance-enhancing drugs, but Thames was tested immediately after last Monday’s game against the Cubs.