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.