Nationals sign former Phillies closer Brad Lidge for setup gig

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UPDATE: It’s a done deal, as Lidge gets a one-year contract worth $1 million.

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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.

Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio

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In something of a surprising move, the Chicago Cubs fired their pitching coach, Chris Bosio on Saturday. Bosio had held the job since the 2011-12 offseason.

The Cubs made the NLCS this year, but were nowhere as near the formidable as their 2016 World Series champion iteration. While there were several reasons for that, one was that the pitching staff, which featured multiple, better-than-expected performances in 2016, but took a step back in 2017. Some of that was personnel — Joe Maddon did not have Aroldis Chapman to call on in the postseason like he did last year — and a lot of that was mere regression from veterans like Jon Lester and John Lackey. A lot of it had to do with a much higher walk rate this year than in the past.

Still, there was no chatter during the season or at the time of the Cubs’ playoff exit the other day that Bosio might be a fall guy. The Chicago Tribune reports that it was Joe Maddon’s call and that he had grown displeased with Bosio. The Tribune report suggests that Cubs pitchers will be displeased with the move as they were devoted to Bosio. Coaches, of course, come and go, so I suspect they’ll get over it.

Whatever the case, Bosio likely won’t say unemployed for long. He is widely credited with helping Jake Arrieta transform from a project to an ace and for the considerable and the somewhat unexpectedly successful development of Kyle Hendricks. The Tribune suggests that he’d be a good fit in Minnesota, where his former teammate Paul Molitor is in search of a new pitching coach.

There are several intriguing coaches available at the moment, most notably Mike Maddux, who has been the Nationals pitching coach but whose status is now in flux given the firing of Dusty Baker. Maddux’s brother Greg, of course, is a spring training pitching instructor for the Cubs. The Tribune adds that Maddon may look to his old Tampa Bay Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey or, possibly, even recently fired Red Sox manager John Farrell, who made his bones as a pitching coach.