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Nationals sign former Phillies closer Brad Lidge for setup gig

Jan 26, 2012, 10:51 AM EDT

Brad Lidge Getty Images

UPDATE: It’s a done deal, as Lidge gets a one-year contract worth $1 million.


Longtime closer Brad Lidge is on the verge of signing with the Nationals as a setup man, according to Jim Salisbury of

Lidge failed to save at least 15 games last season for the first time since 2003, as he spent the first three-plus months on the disabled list following elbow surgery and Ryan Madson was entrenched as the Phillies’ closer by the time he returned.

Drew Storen is in no danger of losing ninth-inning duties to Lidge and Tyler Clippard figures to remain the Nationals’ primary setup man, leaving the 35-year-old right-hander to work the sixth and seventh innings for the first time in his decade-long career.

Once an elite closer with a devastating mid-90s fastball and high-80s slider, Lidge averaged just 88.9 mph on his fastball and 80.9 mph on his slider last year. His velocity likely isn’t coming back, but Lidge still racked up 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings throwing in the high-80s and his slider remains one of MLB’s best pitches.

  1. Utley's Hair - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Good luck, Lights Out. Thanks for that indelible image from Oct. 29, 2008. You will always have a place in the hearts of Phans everywhere.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      Though, admittedly, in some hearts, it’s scarring from repeated coronaries.

      • badmamainphilliesjamas - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM

        Thanks for the memories, Brad.

        Every time he came into a game, without fail, my phone rang. Within seconds, call waiting beeped with another call. Both my mother and mother-in-law saying, “I don’t know if I can take this again!”

        Good times.

  2. Old Gator - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Even without the Fat Prince, the Gnats aren’t going to be anyone’s patsies in the NL East this season. Actually, I think they dodged a bul…er, cannonball….by not miring themselves in a long-term deal with Fielder. They have a terrific young core coming up and I don’t expect Jayson Werth to have another awful season like the last. Lidge was an excellent addition to their staff and it’s going to be tough to wrest a late-inning lead from these guys. This is going to be a highly competitive, very interesting division this year.

    Unless you live in New York….

  3. test2402 - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Long live Lidge.

  4. shawndc04 - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:43 AM

    >>His velocity likely isn’t coming back, but Lidge still racked up 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings throwing in the high-80s and his slider remains one of MLB’s best pitches.<<

    Hopefully, for us, he's building back some arm strength and will get some of that velocity back. Clippard pitched in a lot of games and it will be helpful if Brad can lessen Clip's workload somewhat.

  5. The Baseball Gods - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    I love how Jon Heyman reported that the Phillies had offered Lidge a lowball offer. How exactly did they lowball him if he accepted a 1-year $1 Million deal?

    • Francisco (FC) - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:23 PM

      Maybe Ruben offered him the league minimum? He may have suffered a Park effect: Phillies give a good offer for a specific role, but the pitcher wants a larger role and hence more salary, he rejects the offer. Market dries up, said pitcher ends up playing the role he didn’t want to at a much lower salary in a different place he wanted to pitch.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      Phillies wanted him back but said Lidge had to pay them?

  6. gallaghedj311 - Jan 26, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    I can’t believe phillies didnt want him back. He wanted to be here sooooo bad as just an arm in the ‘pen. I’m starting to hate my baseball team….

  7. dcfan4life - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:17 PM

    This is a great signing. Do not be surprised if he splits some late innings with Tyler Clippard because the Nats were in so many close games and to now have 2 very strong late innings guys is great. He can even close some games when Storens been overworked. The Nats make little moves than pan out in big ways, i think they have a strong chance of contending this year.

  8. Jonny 5 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    I wish Brad nothing but the best. It’s going to be neat seeing him pitch vs. the Phills actually. I hope the Phills have learned to just lay off the slider and make him throw strikes.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      It cuts both ways, Brad may well know how to make the slider so enticing his former teammates WON’T be able to lay off of it. Besides we’re talking Phillies plate discipline here. Unless Charlie has acquired some crazy pills, the Phils are going to keep a swingin’

      • Jonny 5 - Jan 26, 2012 at 3:38 PM

        But Amaro said they would find plate discipline and better OBP skills this winter…..

      • Utley's Hair - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        But NinJr. didn’t say he would bring it here…just that he would find it.

    • seanmk - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:50 PM

      here is his pitch usuage since 2007. pretty drastic downward trend velocitywise. the slider usage is pretty noticable. don’t know how he’ll succeeed over a full season(if he can even pitch af ull season). that 10.71 k/9 is in 19.1 innings to go along with a 6.05 BB/9 which is his highest since his rookie year.

      fastball(velocity) slider(velocity)
      2007 Astros 58.0% (95.4) 36.4% (86.8)
      2008 Phillies 43.4% (94.3) 56.2% (85.1)
      2009 Phillies 50.3% (93.6) 49.3% (85.4)
      2010 Phillies 39.8% (91.7) 60.2% (83.4)
      2011 Phillies 28.0% (89.0) 72.0% (80.9)

  9. wlschneider09 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    At that price I’m surprised that some teams with questionable closer situations didn’t give him a chance. I would suspect Lidge would take 1 mil with a chance to close over 1 mil with no chance to close. Maybe Houston?

    • wlschneider09 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

      For that matter, how about my beloved Twins…

      • stex52 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:57 PM

        Lidge struggled on-and-off in Houston for his last two years, and in the end he seemed to take a lot of went on around it personally. When the Astros traded him it was one of those “fresh start” type deals and he benefited greatly from it. But I don’t think he would ever go back to Houston.

        Besides, that is 180 degrees from present management plans. They are going to take their lumps with young players.

  10. natstowngreg - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    This wasn’t even in the rumor mill. Great to get an experienced guy to pitch the 6th/7th at such a reasonable price. Now if Rizzo can get a reasonably-priced second lefty setup guy and a couple of bench parts, the 25-man roster should be in good shape

    At the same time, it’s not exactly a vote of confidence in Henry Rodriguez, he of the 100-mph fastball and poor sense of direction. Not that his performance has merited a vote of confidence.

    • shawndc04 - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      >>At the same time, it’s not exactly a vote of confidence in Henry Rodriguez<100mph, and Davey has said that he wants him to close some games to reduce Storen’s workload.

      • shawndc04 - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:43 PM

        Correction: Did you go to the last home game of the season against the Braves? HROD was throwing strikes at >100mph, and Davey has said that he wants him to close some games to reduce Storen’s workload.

        (Sorry, original post was cut off)

      • natstowngreg - Jan 26, 2012 at 4:49 PM

        I didn’t attend the last home game, but watched it on TV. I did attend several home games where Henry couldn’t find the plate.

        It’s all well and good for Davey to express confidence in a guy after one game. Until Rodriguez shows that he can control his pitches over the long haul, Davey’s expressions of confidence will have limited value. I expect he will find work to find work for all 4 RH late-inning guys (assuming Lidge can stay off the DL, which is a considerable “if”).. And we haven’t even mentioned Ryan Perry, Ryan Mattheus, or Craig Stammen..

  11. deathmonkey41 - Jan 26, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    In Anaheim, Albert mourns what could have been if Lidge had moved to the AL West.

  12. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Lidge signed for 1/50th of what Papelbon did. I have no other point than to state this.

    • Utley's Hair - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      Well, technically it’s something like 1/12.5th/annum of Lord of the Dance’s money.

  13. sasquash20 - Jan 26, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Lights out is a class act and will be missed in Philly. What he did for my Phillies gets him a free pass any time in Philly. Thanks for the magical 2008 season Lights out.

  14. greymares - Jan 26, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    keeping Lidge would be like housing your lazy son who won’t get a job. the guy was good but he can’t pitch anymore.

  15. dieselfan44 - Jan 26, 2012 at 8:44 PM

    They are building a very good staff…be there opening day…can’t wait!

  16. flyeredup2 - Jan 27, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    He had a career season in 08, but since then he’s spent more time on IR then playing and just gave up runs when he did pitch. We will always remember that one season, but glad to see him go!

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