per⋅fect (adj.) / [pur-fikt]:
1. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement 2. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings 3. 48-for-48 in save opportunities
Synonyms: unblemished, faultless, lights out, Brad Lidge in 2008
im⋅per⋅fect (adj.) / [im-pur-fikt]:
1. of, pertaining to, or characterized by defects or weaknesses 2. defective, faulty 3. 11 blown saves
Synonyms: causing fans to use profanity, Brad Lidge in 2009
Those 1-2-3 ninth innings in 2008 were nice, right? 2009 was a different story. We were treated to a nerve-wracking ninth that usually ended in disappoint and frustration. If your heart wasn’t pounding, then you were probably on Mars.
Coming off a “perfect” season, Brad Lidge’s expectations were high, but the only direction he could go was down. And he hit rock bottom.
Lidge extended his consecutive save streak in his first three opportunities. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. On April 18, Lidge blew his first save since 2007. Charlie Manuel walked to the mound to take the ball from Lidge. Proud, and well aware of his remarkable streak, the fans gave Lidge a standing ovation. It would not be the only time Manuel took the baseball from Lidge, but it would be the only ovation.
7-Eleven: a seven-plus earned run average and eleven blown saves. Lidge’s longest save streak in ’09 was five. It was rare that we’d see back-to-back saves from the righty.
Lidge made every appearance interesting, even if he earned the save. He allowed 11 hits and 5.2 walks per nine. Lidge also allowed eleven home runs, a huge jump from his two the previous year.
Lidge would throw his slider early in the count, but the hitter would lay off. He’d immediately fall behind, and allow the batter to reach base. When Lidge allowed a lead-off runner, the game was over. His fastball velocity was there, but sometimes his command was off. Perhaps hitters figured him out, but in 2010 he’ll have to do a better job of mixing and locating his pitches. Lidge is a two-pitch pitcher, but his stuff can be deadly.
Due to his poor performance, Lidge’s health was always in question. He was placed on the disabled list in June (knee), but picked up right where he left off when he returned. Lidge did not have a single month where he had a sub-five ERA.
Charlie Manuel insisted that Lidge was the man for the closing role. But, down the strecth Manuel started to lose faith and called for a ”closer by comittee.” Sometimes Madson would close; sometimes Scott Eyre was brought in to get the first two outs of the ninth.
Lidge saved three games and didn’t allow a run in the National League Division and Championship Series’. Unfortunately, he gave up the biggest runs in the World Series.
But hey, let’s look at the positive: who got the win in Game 4 of the NLCS?
2009 stats: 0-8, 58.2 IP, 7.21 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 31 SV, 61 SO, .296 AVG
Grade: 1.1/10 – Lidge did a terrific job of raising our blood pressures. He made history by having the worst ERA of any closer (with at least 20 saves) in MLB history. He just didn’t have it.