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Brad Lidge yo-yo back on the upswing

Oct 16, 2009, 1:21 AM EDT

lidge_brad_091015.jpgStill worried about the Phillies bullpen?

For all the talk of Brad Lidge falling off the ledge, he certainly looked fine on Thursday night in the NLCS opener. So did the rest of his bullpen mates (aside from Ryan Madson’s hiccup), holding the Dodgers in check in a wild 8-6 victory.

The Dodgers figured to have an edge in this series in the bullpen department with a lockdown closer in Jonathan Broxton plus a whole host of talented guys like Ramon Troncoso and Ronald Belisario, and a solid lefty specialist in George Sherrill.

The Phillies, on the other hand, had Lidge, who after a perfect 48-for-48 2008 season, reverted in 2009 to the guy who seemed stalked by Albert Pujols in his nightmares. The ugliness lasted all season long, resulting in a line of 0-8, 7.21 that would make Mariah Carey cringe.

But a couple of things were overlooked heading into the playoffs.

For one thing, Lidge seemed to finally get his act together in the last part of the season, allowing one run in his last four appearances. Add to that the two saves he notched in a pair of scoreless appearances in the NLDS, and Phillies fans could at least hope that their incredible yo-yo of a closer was once again on the upswing.

Another overlooked advantage for the Phillies was their overall pitching depth. The Phillies have so many talented starting pitchers they don’t know what do with them all. Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee were guaranteed starting spots, but with the extended format of the playoffs, Charlie Manuel has had some flexibility in deciding what to do with J.A. Happ, Pedro Martinez, Joe Blanton and Chan Ho Park, who took Brett Myers’ spot on the NLCS roster.

On Thursday night, Happ came out of the bullpen to get one out, and Park looked strong in a perfect seventh inning. Having these guys ready to go in relief takes pressure off the back-end guys like Scott Eyre, Madson and of course, Lidge.

Look, this isn’t to say this series is close to being over. Lidge gave up a hit and a single on Thursday, and was fortunate to have a hard-hit grounder turn into a double-play ball.

It’s also difficult to predict what the Phillies will get out of Martinez in his Game 2 start Friday, which will be his first action since Sept. 30. (In fact, he hasn’t even pitched in a playoff game since helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004.)

But it’s still a good sign for the Phillies to see Lidge notching saves again.

“Honestly, for some reason I’ve really been locked in this postseason. I felt really good mechanically. I feel like myself. I feel pretty comfortable right now.”

Lidge is locked in? Uh oh, Dodgers.

  1. chris - Oct 16, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    I thought Park should have piched two innings. That was typical during the regular season and he had great success. He looked great last night, why not go with the flow.
    The series is going to be one only for those with strong stomachs! No one is going to go out without a fight!

  2. Royal - Oct 16, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    Chris is absolutely right. I cannot for the life of me figure why Manuel would put a loser like Miguel Cairo, all but guaranteed to not get a hit, in to bat for Park when Park was easily capable of going more innings. As a reliever Park may be the best pitcher the Phillies have at the moment, and they’re really lucky to have him back.

  3. Shari - Oct 16, 2009 at 12:36 PM

    If my hair wasn’t already white, it would be after last night’s game and the previous week. However, I have always believed the Phillies would beat the Dodgers. I do not like the TBS announcers and was really annoyed about how the so called interviewer just walked away from Brad Lidge after the game without even a thank you and stuck his microphone under Raoul’s nose. Thankfully by that time Comcast Sports was on ai but it was definitely rude and pretty poor behavior. The on air guys were also very poor and definitely pro Dodgers….them I just turned off and just watched the game. Thumbs down to TBS.

  4. lucky - Oct 16, 2009 at 12:40 PM

    Charle made the right choice by hitting for Park. Park is coming of an injury and it wouldn’t be a good idea to push him considering that we are going to need him down the road.

  5. Mike Z - Oct 16, 2009 at 12:41 PM

    Park is coming off a hamstring injury that kept him on the bench for the past month. I don’t think Uncle Charlie wanted to push him too far on his first outing back on the mound. Phils got a solid inning out of him and he will be ready to go again today if needed. Madson is usually solid pitching the 8th. He ran into the meat of their lineup and they were down 4 runs. He did give up 2 runs but got big bad Manny to ground out with runners on first and third to end the inning.
    Today’s game has a very interesting pitching match up. Both starters have played for the opposing team, Pedro getting his start in LA. I have to go with the 3 time Cy Young award winner in this one.
    As for Lidge he is getting healthy and finding his mechanics at the perfect time.
    Phillies in 5 games.

  6. jonny5 - Oct 16, 2009 at 12:50 PM

    I strongly feel that Charlie did the right thing, not only will they most likely need Chan Ho tonight, but they’ll need him for this entire series, and quite possibly the next. In addition They need Brad to build up his confidence, which does appear to be on the upswing. If Charlie is good at anything, it’s getting the very best out of each and every player he has on his team. he didn’t put Lidge in just to close that game, He put him in to build his confidence so he can close in future save opportunities for the remaining 09 season.

  7. adeline_heel@yahoo.com - Jan 4, 2010 at 7:47 AM

    Hello there, cheers for the great blog, a truly great beginning for the new year, keep up the fantastic work, Tracy.

  8. Ellena Kielich - Feb 3, 2010 at 11:32 AM

    Hello, super blog, I thouroughly enjoyed reading it. the article gave me the kick to attempt my own post, please see my article by clicking my name at the top of this article, cheers

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