SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Does Brad Lidge Have a Tired Arm?

Brad Lidge has had a tremendous year for the Phillies. He's been the best closer in the National League, and for most of the season removed all doubts Phillies' fans had about whether he in fact was a bona fide closer or damaged goods.

But recently he's been less than stellar. We all worried about the fiasco that was the All-Star game, with Bud Selig's edict that the teams would finish "no matter what", and with gross mismanagement by National Manager Clint Hurdle, who warmed Lidge up so much that the Phillies' reliever threw at least 100 pitches in the bullpen (he was up 6 times).

Is that worry coming to roost now? Is Lidge spent?

He doesn't look like a lights-out closer right now. He looks more like Mitch Williams, the "Wild Thing", who was the Phillies' closer in the 1993 season (and who gave up only one of two Series-ending walk-off home runs in World Series history) or like Don Stanhouse, the one-time Orioles' closer who made saves an adventure over 25 years ago.

And that concerns the Phillies' faithful, which it should.

Brad Lidge has had a great year, but he threw so many pitches yesterday that it makes fans wonder whether he'll be available to pitch in relief today. The Phillies' bullpen was one of the best in baseball all year. It needs to continue to honor its great season by pitching outstanding baseball in the post-season. The Phillies won't go far if Lidge isn't "Lights Out" Lidge.

And if Brad Lidge is not "Lights Out" Lidge in the post-season, the Phillies' fans will have cause to sing that old Don Meredith favorite, "Turn out the lights, the party's over" earlier than they would hope to.

I still say Phillies in 4.

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