Before 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.