It has now been confirmed by Major League Baseball and the team, the Washington Nationals have designated reliever/closer Brad Lidge for assignment. When young closer Drew Storen was reported to have an injury this offseason, the signing of Brad Lidge seemed to be a blessing in disguise for Washington and while he started his Nationals career off well, Lidge has sputtered. After returning from yet another trip to the disabled list due to a hernia surgery this past May, the former Philadelphia Phillies closer has allowed 5 hits, 4 walks and 6 earned runs in just 2.1 innings pitched since June 8th.
Brad Lidge is now 36 years old and hasn’t been as effective as he was during his perfect 41-for-41 2008 season that culminated in a world championship clinching strikeout of Eric Hinske as the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in 5 games. With an ERA of 9.64 in Washington this season, don’t expect teams to be lining up at Lidge’s door. That said, there’s no doubt that some teams in need of bullpen help would and should be interested in the aging closer. The New York Mets and even his former Phillies are two teams that I believe will be interested in his services. While surprising many by being in contention this season, the Mets have by far the worst bullpen in all of baseball. The Phillies aren’t much better. Philadelphia, while sitting 9 games out of first place, expects Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay to all return at some point this summer and contribute, so they’re not throwing in the towel. While closer Jonathan Papelbon has been spotless in save situations this season, it’s the rest of that bullpen that could use help. Their set-up man was 40-year-old Jose Contreras who’s ERA this season, before receiving an injury that may end his career, was 5.27. That is a role that Lidge could potentially fill.
Brad Lidge will never be the same pitcher he was in his prime but there’s no question in my mind that he can still effectively contribute. This could be one of those seemingly low-key, low risk/high reward type moves that could help bolster any bullpen. Don’t look for Lidge to just throw in the towel, that’s not who he is.
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