UPDATE: It’s a done deal, as Lidge gets a one-year contract worth $1 million.
Longtime closer Brad Lidge is on the verge of signing with the Nationals as a setup man, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
Lidge failed to save at least 15 games last season for the first time since 2003, as he spent the first three-plus months on the disabled list following elbow surgery and Ryan Madson was entrenched as the Phillies’ closer by the time he returned.
Drew Storen is in no danger of losing ninth-inning duties to Lidge and Tyler Clippard figures to remain the Nationals’ primary setup man, leaving the 35-year-old right-hander to work the sixth and seventh innings for the first time in his decade-long career.
Once an elite closer with a devastating mid-90s fastball and high-80s slider, Lidge averaged just 88.9 mph on his fastball and 80.9 mph on his slider last year. His velocity likely isn’t coming back, but Lidge still racked up 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings throwing in the high-80s and his slider remains one of MLB’s best pitches.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.