During the ninth inning of Sunday’s Game 3 against the Rockies, I was concerned. Afterward, I felt a little better.
After Todd Helton singled to put two men on with two out in the ninth inning of Game 4, bringing Lidge in once again, I was less worried, but not without some panic.
Now, one day before the start of a NLCS matchup, I feel a little better still. But I’m certainly not ready, under any circumstances, to say Brad Lidge is “fixed.”
He’s faced six batters in those two appearances, getting four of them out and walking the other two, with one strikeout (and I have a feeling you know when that happened). Hey, he hasn’t allowed a run (which is great), and I don’t take that away from him; though if Tulowitzki had, say, doubled home the two runners on to win the game for Colorado, he still would technically have allowed zero runs.
Have a look at Lidge’s pitch release points for his appearances in Games 1 and 2 (with a thanks to BrooksBaseball):
There exists nearly a foot and a half of horizontal difference in Lidge’s arm slot.
On October 22 of last year, Lidge had his last clean postseason inning, recording two strikeouts in a save of Game 1 in the World Series. He threw 15 pitches, 11 for strikes. Here’s how his arm slot looked back then:
You can see the difference right off. The horizontal difference is no more than six inches. Are these small samples? Sure. But the trend holds: consistency in delivery often leads to more effective outings. Giving a hitter advance notice of a pitch certainly isn’t going to help an outing go more smoothly.
So far, Lidge has done fine. Two walks aside, he hasn’t blown a game. But to call a pitcher “fixed” based on six batters faced and clearly flying in the face of data acquired when he was on top of his game is erroneous. We need to see more before we can relax.