Brad Lidge to Start Season on DL
March 25, 2011 4 Comments
Today, the team announced that closer Brad Lidge will have to start the season on the DL because of shoulder soreness (ESPN News link). Lidge has been an adventure at the back end of the Phillies bullpen over the last few seasons. After an atrocious 2009 campaign, Lidge bounced back last year to post a 2.96 ERA with 27 saves and 52 strikeouts in 50 games.
However, last year, Lidge faced injury problems all year that limited his performance. With right fielder Dominic Brown and second baseman Chase Utley already on the DL, Lidge’s addition to the growing list was the last thing the Phillies needed. With one of the best starting five in all of baseball, the key to the Phillies sustained success from their pitching staff falls on the laps of their beleaguered bullpen.
With Lidge out, the team will turn to either Ryan Madson or Jose Contreras to step in for the time being and close games. Madson, who was injured at points in the year in 2009 that limited him to 55 games, posted an ERA of 2.55 with 64 strikeouts in 53 innings. He possesses one of the best change-ups in baseball and could be very effective in the closer role. However, in a perfect world, manager Charlie Manuel would rather keep him in his current eighth inning role, serving as the bridge between the rotation and the ninth inning.
Contreras was a bit of a surprise for the Phillies last season, his first with the team and his first season coming out of the bullpen. He posted a 3.34 ERA in 67 games. But, Contreras no longer has the swing-and-miss stuff that closers typically maintain. He is better served in a middle relief role earlier on in the game, but the Phillies may have no choice but to use him as their closer without Lidge.
Brad Lidge is in the final year of a three-year contract with the Phillies. The team was hoping that he would replicate his numbers from 2010 and provide a steady performance at the end of ballgames. However, when Lidge has been healthy, his performance has been spotty.
Right now, health is the overwhelming issue with this Phillies team. And health isn’t something you can fix overnight.