The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Brad Lidge Profile
by Dave Busk - 05/20/2009
Most of you know that Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge didn't blow a save all of last year, and that he posted some pretty ridiculous numbers. Most of you are probably wondering what has happened to him this season since he hasn't been playing well. Well, as a local viewer that sees most of his games, here's the breakdown:
The Ugly: The ugly is over, barring no major injury re-occurring. Lidge had some forearm tightness and a knee twinge, which really prevented him from getting proper work in during the spring and getting on a roll in the early season. His mechanics were altered during the knee episode, which led to some horrible outings. However, in my estimation he looks right and is more fluid now.
The Bad: The bad news is this guy's velocity has dropped a mile or two every year since he broke into the scene with Houston. Gone are the days of touching upper 90s complimented with a low 90s slidepiece. He is routinely in the 92-93 mile per hour range with the fastball, and around 86 mph with the slider. When his location is off, he no longer gets away with mistakes like he once did. Also, he is a two-trick pony, with no other pitch in his repertoire. So when the slider isn't sharp and on the same trajectory as the fastball, the two are easily read by the batter and there is no other pitch to mess with the hitter's mind.
The Good: Lidge's slider may be one of the top five pitches in the game, along the lines with a Santana change-up, Rivera cutter, Verlander heater, etc... Some nights it's all he throws and he still gets batters flailing, especially lately since he's been injury free. His location of the pitch is usually better than his fastball, and when he's got both in the lower half of the zone it's like trying to hit a fly with a straw from a batter's vantage point.
The Verdict: Don't expect a repeat of last year, even from this point on. However, this guy is going to be a premier closer for a few more years at least. Down the line he may have to develop a cutter or change to lengthen his career as his velocity continues to drop, but the Phils can't do much better than what they've got now.