Brad Lidge: Evolving Reliever or Small Sample?

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, November 01, 2011 02:45 PM | Comments: 28
2011 Player Review, Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

Brad Lidge in Game 4 of 2011 NLDS Photo: Getty

The 2011 Phillies Nation Player Reviews continue today, with Brad Lidge

Brad Lidge dropping to his knees, embracing Chooch, the two knocked over by Ryan Howard, and squished by a literal Flyin’ Hawaiian. It is a scene this generation of Phillies’ fans will never forget. Everybody knows that Lidge had a spectacular, sometimes adventurous, 2008; what many do not realize is that Lidge had a very solid 2010 and followed it up with an even better, yet further injury shortened, 2011.

Lidge returned on July 25 against the Padres and pitched a scoreless 7th inning. He wound up pitching only 19.1 innings, but posted a 1.40 ERA pitching in both a seventh inning and set-up role. Phillies fans’ eyes were not deceiving them: this Brad Lidge was similar to the one that had much success in 2011.

Lidge again had a, sometimes self-inflicted, flare for the dramatics. He was able to strand 7 of 8 runners inherited during the regular season while stranding 90% of the runners he put on. His BABIP of .327 was only 20 points higher than his career average, meaning he was not either lucky or unlucky and held batters to a .222 BAA. Lidge’s peripheral splits were consistent across righties and lefties but surprisingly held lefties to a .097 BAA versus .317 against righties.

Where Lidge ran into trouble in 2011, and what will be a problem in the future, are walks. Lidge’s 1.77 K/BB was the lowest of his career and will never again see the 11.94 K/9 IP he posted in 2008. He did improve, however, at reducing flyball outs and creating more groundball outs. Lidge did not give up a home run in 2011 and in a very small sample size, posted a 19.1% flyball percentage against a career average of 38.5%. The righty induced groundballs 54.7% of the time against a career average of 40.7%.

Much like the regular season, Lidge was a mix of solid and shaky in the playoffs. In Game 2 of the NLDS, he pitched wonderfully out of trouble and stranded both inherited runs after coming into the game with 2 on and no out. Game 3 was a bit rougher, inheriting one and giving up two base hits without allowing a run but not recording an out. Lidge had a perfect frame in Game 4 when he struck out one and induced two flyball outs.

Overall, it was a very solid, but very short 2011 for #54 and he mainly used his slider effectively to get more groundballs. Lidge’s early season absence gave them an opportunity to audition and finally make decisions on Andrew Carpenter, Mike Zagurski, and Scott Mathieson and his presence in the ‘pen down the stretch helped the Phils run away with the division. Lidge will likely be a  solid enough pitcher again next season if he can cut down on walks, but durability questions remain as he has not been healthy for a full season since 2008.

GRADE: 8.0/10 When Lidge hit the field in 2011, he perhaps was the most statistically solid reliever the Phillies had all year. But limited availability and declining peripherals paint a picture of an injury plague pitcher who pitched his heart out and adapted to survive in the Major Leagues. Lidge is a great buy-low candidate and could be a tremendous asset to the 2012 ‘pen if he lower his walks and remain healthy.

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About Ian Riccaboni

Ian Riccaboni has written 773 articles on Phillies Nation.

Ian's athletic achievements include getting stuffed by NBA center Aaron Gray in high school and hitting .179 over four years for NYU against D-III, NAIA, JuCo, and NCBA schools. Ian hopes his athletic successes will help him achieve his dream of becoming the underground Bob Uecker.

  • Posts: 0 Chris

    Prepare for all the “OMG Lidge is awful how can you say anything mildly decent about him” posts. Nevermind he’s only ever had one bad season with the Phillies.

  • Posts: 432 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    @Chris – I agree. Lidge was tremendous in 08, very good in 10, and tremendous in very limited time in 11. 09 was bad, very bad, but it looks like he’s successfully pitching more to contact and looking to rely less on striking out batters.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy


    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Nevermind it was 2008

    Nevermind its now 2012

    Dipsy please email when they are all gone but Doc.

    If you are going to bring all the old relics back and over pay them.

    How about Schmidt and Carlton?
    Lets really party like its 1980.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Dipsy and Lefty
    We have an offseason project.


    Now Donny wants to give them all $25,000,000.00

    But I think we can improve. And get them to settle for $20,000,000.00

    One of you may have to bring a shovel.
    But we can do this.
    Lets party like its 1932.

  • Posts: 5074 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Party!!!! I’ll be there, can’t speak for Schmitty, he’s in a corn field somewhere in Iowa.

    Riccaboni, In answer to your question in the title, I’m going with small sample, way too small.

  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Nick Strincevich doesnt turn 97 for another 120 days.

    But hes a legacy.

    Donny says 3 years $27,000,000.00
    A real bargain
    Like Jimmy and Chase and Ryan.

  • Posts: 432 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver are both 41 and were both pitching in the World Series last week. Both pitchers went from strikeout pitchers to successful contact specialists. Age is only a number and Lidge is a smart enough player to make the right adjustments to continue this success. He will be cheap and available in a pen that will have some vacancies and plenty of opportunity for our young pitchers. I see what you’re saying, but two more years of Lidge as a set-up man or a middle reliever will not break the bank.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

    Seems like a great plan. Load up on as many injury-prone players in their mid-thirties and then cross your fingers and hope for the best. I can’t wait for the annual “This is the first time Lidge remembers showing up to spring camp healthy” story. A few days later, we’ll get the annual, “We’re shutting Lidge down for a few days, but it’s just normal spring tenderness” story. Good times!

  • Posts: 432 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    @Jeff – can you name me one team in Major League history whose off-season plan hasn’t involved that? Every team last year signed a relief pitcher with an injury history. It’s all risk/reward and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Which relievers would you use to fill the pen?

  • Posts: 432 Ian Riccaboni

    Avatar of Ian Riccaboni

    @Lefty – agree with small sample size but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest he could go 60 IP with a 3.30 ERA next season with 65 Ks and 30 walks, which would be a very good season for an MLB reliever.

    • Posts: 5074 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      It’s not unreasonable if he were handled and used correctly. But here’s my main problem with bringing him back. I seriously worry that Charlie has a one track mind, that he sees Lidge on his roster and thinks 2008, he thinks – closer. That’s what scares me more than anything, no matter what they pay if they retain him. (Although I’d be a lot more comfortable if the contract contained these three numbers- 414)

      The best example I can give is how Charlie kept saying how good Danys Baez was for him in Cleveland in 2001, and kept putting him out there expecting the same performance.

      BTW- Although I don’t agree with all of your content, your arguments are reasoned, and you produced a well written posting. Nice job Ian.

      • Posts: 0 George

        If Manuel has such a one track mind, he’d have used Lidge as the closer when he came off the DL.

        Personally, I’m really tired of people thinking they can read the manager’s mind.

      • Posts: 5074 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        George, please just stop. When you have an opinion, you comment. When I have one, I do. If you are tired of mine, don’t read them.

        To clarify- Last season when Lidge returned, Madson was the closer, there was no choice. If Madson signs elsewhere, which I think is highly likely, things could change. This season Charlie may have to choose, and don’t tell me you are so blind that you don’t see how set in his ways the old man is.

      • Posts: 0 George

        One can’t always know what a comment is about before reading it. If there was an announcement at the beginning that the comment was to be about Manuel’s “one track mind” believe me, I wouldn’t continue.

        You have a right to your opinion, and I wasn’t singling you out, because others on this site do the same thing. My own opinion is that no fan can really know all the factors in any manager’s thinking, because none of us have access to scouting reports, needs for rest, whether a particular sub might need playing time, or factors we can’t even think of. I’d never be so presumptuous as to claim I knew anything about what Manuel had planned or was planning.

        I also believe, if one looks hard enough, that Manuel didn’t always go with set lineups in 2011, and certainly allowed Bastardo and Stutes to make their marks. The Baez thing is a bit overblown, too. Toward the last, he was only used in blowout games or emergencies, and there’s no way to know how much Manuel influenced the decision to get rid of a no-longer effective pitcher.

  • Posts: 0 TheDipsy

    Jesus, please stop with the Lidge talk. He is a two pitch pitcher. High slider and low slider. Whatever he’s evolving into, I don’t want any parts of. Some guys just have to leave and that’s all there is to it. Lidge is one.

    The Dipsy

  • Posts: 0 George

    What is not good about Lidge is that he seems to have lost his fastball. That would be okay if he had another pitch besides the slider. I fear batters will begin to notice, and his ERA will soar.

    He’s definitely a gamble, but he’s also a veteran. Some of those guys have picked up enough experience to get by on limited stuff. As long as he comes dirt cheap I’d take a chance.

  • Posts: 31 Gavin

    Avatar of Gavin

    I say, sign him for a low contract and if you can’t get Madson, why not give Lidge another try as a closer?

  • Posts: 0 Chris

    The Lidge hate is just so strong. People have this irrational fear of him as a pitcher. Andrew you’re talking like 2008 was the only good year Lidge had as a reliever with the Phillies. Check 2010, and check the end of last year. No one is saying break the bank for Lidge and turn him back into the closer. But it’d be nice to have a little bit of certainty in the bullpen. If the Phillies go with a bunch of young guys they might be good or they might all be Andrew Carpenter, Scott Mathieson and Mike Zagurski.

    If Lidge can be had for 2-3 mill it might be worthwhile to take a flier. The Phillies don’t have all that much money to work with so we have to look in the bargain bin. People act like Lidge ever had a fastball. Even in 08 he couldn’t throw his fastball for strikes.

    • Posts: 0 Chris

      I’d prefer to sign Madson over getting Lidge though but we don’t know how things will go down.

    • Posts: 576 Brian Sr. of CO

      Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

      I really think you are overstating with “The Lidge hate is just so strong”. I believe most peoples fear, and rightfully so is his diminishing innings with recurring injuries/surgery’s. 2010 he had 50 innings, to 2011 with only 25 innings. He has battled Knee, Elbow and shoulder injuries, with recurring knee and elbow surgery.

  • Posts: 955 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    I think most people on here would take Madson over Lidge if you could only sign one. The point being I am pretty sure Maddog will price himself out of philly. The question is what to do next. Can you get Lidge on a one or two year deal around 2 million per? If you can it might be worth having a vet in there to help Bastardo and Stutes grow up. Maybe he will suck like in 2009, worse case you lose around 4 million when you release him in June. Because you do not know, maybe going into the winter healthy, which he hasn’t been for the last two years will help him get in better condition for 2012. If he wants 3 years at 4-7 million you let him go. How is that a bad thing

  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    The talk needs to be put to an end. If Lidge is signed, I will puke then hope for a situation similar to Scott Eyre…

    But certainly dont offer him a raise -

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    I have a irrational fear of Lidge. He walks to many batters, to many men on bases. Now he only has that one pitch which if he gets into a 3-1 count, you just have to lay off it. Chances are it will be a ball. If he does indeed evolve into a different type of pitcher can we afford him to be out there evolving and experimenting to reach his new style. I dunno about heart attack Lidge, i definitively do no t want to see him as the closer. If we can sign him on the cheap as a possible mop up guy in certain roles then maybe.

  • Posts: 0 joemo

    Lidge’s 2008 performance will live forever in the hearts and minds of Phillies fans. However, all good things must come to an end and it’s time to move on from this chapter. The Phillies need to get younger talent into key roles and not overpay for the good memories.

  • Posts: 2978 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    betasigma… If it comes down to CHOOSING Lidge or Madson then we’re in trouble. Madson will be expensive and Lidge SHOULD be cheap. If Ruben wants to spend elite closer money on Madson that’s fine (I guess…) but Lidge should be cheap enough so that it doesn’t even have to be a choice.

    I’m in the minority on here by saying that Lidge can come back if 1) he’s cheap enough and 2) he’s cheap enough. Seriously, if he can be had for dirt cheap then it’s worth a gamble. This pen is gonna be VERRRRRRY young (especially without Madson) so a veteran like Lidge could be a good thing.

    • Posts: 5074 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      Don’t forget about Jose Contreras, he’s still under contract. And since no one can prove conclusively that he is any younger than Charlie, doesn’t he the count as double veteran presence? :)

  • Posts: 1190 Manny

    Avatar of Manny

    I’d try to get Lidge back on a $1 million, one year deal. If Madson leaves, I’d also try to get Nathan, who’s said that his number one issue is to pitch for a winning team, not $$$. Maybe he can be had for cheap, too. He should be better than last year… and, like Lidge, it’s a great buy-low opportunity, but with an even higher upside.

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