Thursday, August 17, 2006

Demoted by Astros, Brad Lidge May Still Close

Despite his demotion to a setup role, expect Brad Lidge to be given an occasional shot at a save or two as part of a so-called committee of closers. Mysteriously, Lidge remains perhaps the most skilled pitcher on the roster despite an anomalous ERA of more than 5.00. Lidge ranks at the top of the league with 1.4 strikeouts per inning while holding batters to a .235 average, .195 against righties alone. Though manger Phil Garner likely will develop confidence in Dan Wheeler as primary closer, Lidge is a likely candidate to return to the role as his history, pedigree and stamina shows him to be a potentially capable two-inning closer, leading Garner to stay with him if he looks strong at the conclusion of the eighth inning. Garner can use such outings to help restore Lidge's confidence and the part of his game that coaches have been unable to correct: the part between his ears.