Wherein Brad Lidge makes like Mariano Rivera

In the entirety of the 2009 Postseason, there was one closer the entire year that did not blow a game for his team.

Because this closer was Mariano Rivera, and because mariano Rivera is the ultimate in predictability, this post isn’t about him.

Instead, this post is about the closer that lasted the next longest without blowing a save in that postseason–Brad Lidge.

This may surprise you.

Last season, Lidge had an ERA of 7.21, a WHIP of 1.807, and opponents hit .301/.398/.515/.912. As you might imagine, this is not very good. It’s even worse for a closer, who pitches mostly in high leverage situations.

You can also look at it this way: Lidge appeared in 67 games, finished 55 five of them…and saved 31.

How poor was Lidge’s regular season? He was worth negative WAR–-0.7.

It’s really hard to be worth negative WAR, especially when you’re coming off of the 2008 season Lidge had. Like, it might not be hard for Angel Berroa to be worth negative WAR, but even Boone Logan, at 0.0, managed to break even in 2009.

What does negative WAR mean? It means a replacement level player–someone who provides the absolute minimum production to play in the Major Leagues, ie, the bench guys on the Pirates (or Astros, as it were)–is better than you are.

It’s, well, bad.

So, out of all the closers who pitched in the 2009 postseason–Rivera, Papelbon, Fuentes, Nathan, Street, Broxton, Franklin and Lidge–you would have, perhaps fairly easily, have expected that Lidge would have been the first closer to blow a game for the Phillies.

You would have been wrong.

It wasn’t until the fateful Game 4 of the World Series that Lidge was tagged for a loss, but even then, the ninth inning had merely been tied (the lead the Phillies blew in the NLDS was blown by Madson, not Lidge). Of course, a blown game is still a blown game and Phillies fans probably won’t take a ton of comfort in that the Game Four loss wasn’t a blown save, but still, the point remains.

The worst of the regular season closers was among the best in the postseason.

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One Response to Wherein Brad Lidge makes like Mariano Rivera

  1. JGS says:

    To get a sense of how hard it is for a pitcher to have a negative WAR, consider this

    Chien-Ming Wang, 2009: +0.1

    That’s Fangraphs WAR–B-ref/Rally WAR is much easier to score in the negatives and they had Wang at -2.1 (they also had Lidge at an incredible -3.3)

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