9th Inning Woesby sporemba
It seems like a new sport has popped up in Philadelphia: Lidge bashing. He’s the closer, so that must mean all of the bullpen problems, particularly in the 9th inning, are his fault.
It makes me wonder if people actually watch all the games, or are just intent on playing Lidge Bashing. For example, let’s take last night’s game. Chad Durbin pitches a beautiful 8th inning. But in the 9th, he started to have a little bit of trouble. He was at 40 pitches over the 2 innings. He had two runners in scoring position and he was getting a little wild. Granted, the team had a nice lead and those 2 runners weren’t really bothering anybody. But the point is, Durbin didn’t have a clean 9th inning.
Mitch Williams, who made 9th innings more interesting than almost anyone in my Phillies memory, suggested JC Romero as the closer. Okay, let’s look at Juan Carlos in the 9th recently. Didn’t he just blow a save last week against Arizona?
The more I watch the season unfold, coupled with last season, the more sure I am that Lidge is NOT the problem on the backend of the bullpen. The problem is the 9th inning. It appears that the mentality of the pitching staff changes when the inning counter flips to 9.
Because the problem seems to be universal to the bullpen staff, I am lead to believe the real problem lies in the coaching. Are pitchers not prepared enough to come into the 9th? Is the pen being used properly? Is it time for a change in pitching/bullpen coaches?
It’s easy to Lidge Bash and focus on him as the microcism of the problem. He gives the 9th inning its face — and that perfect season has put ridiculous expectations on him. Not that I’m saying there are mechanical problems at work with Lidge; there may be. But the 9th inning problems lie much deeper than a solitary closer, and I believe the wrong person is being held accountable for the problems.