There’s been much talk about the Phillies pitching staff this off-season, most notably the starting five. The debuts of Ryan Madson and Ryan Franklin have garnered the most headlines followed a close second by the battle for the number 1 spot between Jon Lieber and Brett Myers. Yet lost among the hype is ole faithful, Cory Lidle. The inning-eater who has the #3 spot in the rotation locked up is looking to improve upon 2005 in which he saw his first winning season in four years.
Many of Lidle’s numbers started moving in the right direction last year. His HR/9 improved significantly and he gave up a lot less fly balls as the season progressed. This lead to him only allowing 18 homeruns, which is pretty impressive considering where he was pitching. Similarly he started throwing a lot more strikes than past seasons – 65% to be exact - which improved both his K/9 and K/BB ratio (see chart).
So Lidle had one good season – big deal. Does that mean we can extrapolate it out to next year? Well, according to Baseball Prospectus we shouldn’t expect much more than last season’s form. Though truth be told, that is fine with me. As the Phils number 3 starter, Lidle’s expectations do not really rise much above the average. As long as he can continue to pitch 6 innings (which is precisely what he averaged last season) and win at least 12 games his performance should be sufficient. It would help if he could decrease his ERA by at least half a point and dip under 4.00, but any small bit that surpasses expectations could really make the difference in the Phillies season.