Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Lidge ready to close if needed

Associated Press photo
Brad Lidge impressed again today against the Marlins.
JUPITER, Fla. -- The Nationals didn't sign Brad Lidge to be their closer, but they did sign him believing he could handle the role if needed. Which, with Drew Storen likely to open the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, now appears to be the case.

Lidge, owner of 223 career big-league saves with the Astros and Phillies, insists he's ready for the challenge.

"First and foremost, we all want Drew to get back as fast as possible," he said. "We all know he's the closer. ... Obviously I'd be happy to have that role. I still feel in my mind when I'm healthy that's something I love to do, and I'm very happy to do it. I definitely would love to have an opportunity to do that."

Manager Davey Johnson has said he'll use either Lidge or Henry Rodriguez in the ninth inning until Storen returns. (He was scheduled to resume a throwing program today and believes he won't need much time to get himself game-ready, but he'll probably need to miss at least the season's first week.)

Both Lidge (1.29 ERA, nine strikeouts, zero walks) and Rodriguez (0.00 ERA, seven strikeouts, two walks) have excelled this spring, and Lidge was back at it today against the Marlins, retiring the side in the bottom of the eighth inning with a strikeout and two flyballs.

Perhaps most important, the 35-year-old's fastball velocity was consistently in the 91-92 mph range according to the stadium radar gun. That's up from where it was earlier this spring and is where Lidge has hoped it would settle all along.

"I would've told you probably when the season started if I was going to be 90-91, maybe 92, that I'd be where I wanted," he said. "Fortunately it's kind of come a little quicker than I thought. Hopefully there's a chance it can still go up a bit [more]."

Lidge's velocity won't reach its peak level from 2007, when his fastball averaged 95.8 mph, but he's not that same kind of pitcher anymore following shoulder surgery.

These days, the right-hander relies much more on his slider. Last year, he threw that pitch an astounding 70.7 percent of the time, up from 45.4 percent in 2007.

Lidge did go to his fastball more regularly during today's outing, and he did the same in a recent game at minor-league camp. Club officials came away encouraged by his ability to record outs with that pitch, perhaps decreasing his need to throw so many sliders (which are tougher on the arm).

"He's got nice zip on it," Johnson said. "He's pitching. I like what I'm seeing there."

There's still a long way to go, and there's no assurances Lidge's arm will hold up over the long haul after he was forced to miss time in each of the last two seasons.

But for now, the veteran reliever looks as healthy -- and effective -- as ever.

"I'm not fighting anything," he said. "My arm feels good. My body feels good. So I can just go out there and throw. Normally -- knock on wood -- it'll be good results if I don't have to worry about anything bothering me."

47 comments:

A DC Wonk said...

Storen, Clip, MPH Rod, Lidge . . . nice little bullpen we're developing here -- to go with our potentially awesome starting staff.

And at least half of them are fairly young!

Pass the kook-aid! ;-)

MicheleS said...

OMG. ERIC BRYNES JUST PICKED THE NATS TO WIN THE DIVISION!!! how much Koolaid is MLBNetwork drinking!

MicheleS said...

Thanks Wonk! Kook aid it is!

Anonymous said...

Anybody have an idea when tickets are supposedto show up on My Nats tickets?
Thanks.

Joe Seamhead said...

Anon 6:57 ,maybe they went to a different Anon.

Get Some Players said...

Nats have some weaknesses but the bullpen has got to be Top 5 in baseball.

Cwj said...

DC Wonk- Indeed.
One of the best bullpens in MLB, I believe.

Lidge can easily close in place of Storen. Rodriguez as well.

I'm guessing Mark's topics about the bullpen don't get many posts because everyone knows how awesome the bullpen is. :-)

Cwj said...

Get Some Players- Agreed

Anonymous said...

There's talk in the Chicago media that Marlon Byrd may be headed to the Nationals. The guy's 34, going on 35, and I don't know why the Nats would even be interested. Just play Ankiel until Harper comes up!

Anonymous said...

Last night's Nationals Classic -- Ryan Zimmerman with a walk -off three run bomb against ----- Brad Lidge! ( honorable mention -- the Phils go-ahead run- Jayson Werth)

Gonat said...

Marlon Byrd is right-handed. I would have preferred Bourgeois who kills LH pitching but Byrd could be the RH platoon they are looking for. Just a thought. Wouldn't give up much for him.

Gonat said...

Just a thought on today's game. Giancarlo Mike Stanton wasn't in the lineup today. Its a tough lineup as it was today and even tougher when Stanton is in the lineup.

Hmmm... said...

All in for kookaid. When it catches on, we all have to be witnesses for the creator.
Btw- penicillin was an accident, too

Anonymous said...

Marlon Byrd is right-handed. I would have preferred Bourgeois who kills LH pitching but Byrd could be the RH platoon they are looking for.

Once Morse is back Werth is your 34 year old Byrd. Stop now.

If you keep in mind that professional hitter DeRosa also plays the outfield and is right handed? Its likely Tyler Moore could be ready soon and Marerro is coming back so ... Your BIG WEAKNESS IS LEFT HANDED or a dearth thereof of left handed hitters.

Thus Harper, Brown and in the future Goodwin, perhaps Skole ...
Unless a miracle happens and Ankiel, Bernadina suddenly get it ...

Gonat said...

Someone asked what the longest HR by a Nats was in 2011. It was a Michael Morse HR on 08/09/11 and it was 466 feet. Werth may have beaten him by a few feet with the truck shot!

Doc said...

Eric Byrnes has consistently drank Nats Koolaid, since the beginning of ST.

He's so animated, I'm thinking that he should be borrowing some of ALR's Ritalin. Fun to listen and watch though, and a pretty bright guy when it comes to baseball.

Gonat said...

Doc, doesn't he know Davey already named Lannan as the 5th starter? Whoops, they missed that one. Like the Koolaid! Pass me a cup!

Anonymous said...

Shhhh Wang is still the 5th starter and the way that guy works he puts most of the rotation to shame ... his recovery nothing short of amazing. He'll be back in April ... and then what Lannan fans? Lannan can't pitch in relief?

AAAA John Lannan.

Gonat said...

They also missed Detwiler as a lefty in the bullpen.

A DC Wonk said...

Hmmm... said...

All in for kookaid. When it catches on, we all have to be witnesses for the creator.
Btw- penicillin was an accident, too


As was: vulcanized rubber, and LannEn ;-)

Section 3, My Sofa said...

I gotcher kook aid. Right here.

Section 3, My Sofa said...

And then, there's this.

Anonymous said...

Why does no one talk about Burnett,yes he was off last year but in 2010 everybody love him

Anonymous said...

They also missed Detwiler as a lefty in the bullpen.

He'll be kept on a starter's schedule only able to pitch every five days. As will Wang. Gorzelanny wants to pitch as often as needed ...

What does that tell you? Do you folks need the Mighty Thor to throw some runes into a fire and send you smoke signals?

John Lannan and his 5 million salary won't be there past May if management has any say ...

Cwj said...

Just watched MLB network's 30/30 on the Nats.
It was OK. Mitch Williams had a better final analysis than Larry Bowa, I think.

Cwj said...

Anon 10:45- Oh I think Burnett is a solid middle reliever.
He pitched quite well after a bad start last season. In the end, it wasn't really a bad year at all.
Just an off year as you said.

Steady Eddie said...

And Mitch Williams also objected to exactly the right things in Bowa's silly summary "analysis". You can't be more oblivious than Bowa's giving the Nats' rotation and bullpen a 3 (out of 5), and giving the lineup and defense the same 3. The latter two are fair -- though hopefully defense could get to 4 over the summer, we'd be fortunate to have an average hitting lineup, which is presumably what 3 represents.

But to say that Stras' innings limit pulls the whole rotation down to a 3, and that Storen's elbow issue does the same for the bullpen, is just flat idiotic.

Anonymous said...

I just feel he gets a bad rap that's all

Steady Eddie said...

Agree on Burnett. It wasn't a bad rap through July or so -- he was burn-it-up with leads and ties. But once he shifted his position on the rubber to throw at hitters (especially lefties) at a sharper angle, he was back to his old self.

Gonat said...

StanK does it again! Back as an owner w/ a new plan. $2 billion at 3% is $60 million a year. Obviously they aren't borrowing the whole $2 billion but how do you make enough to meet all expenses plus the interest payments?

As Darren Rovell tweeted, could be McCourt II

Cwj said...

Steady Eddie- Yeah, Bowa actually shocked me a bit by giving both the rotation and bullpen a 3/5. Though he did say the Nats would finish 3rd.

The Nats rotation is a clear 4, and the bullpen a definite 5.

Anonymous said...

I just feel he gets a bad rap that's all

He and Slaten were the two worst relievers statistically last year. That says a lot given all that were tried.

The claim is he improved toward the end ... I guess we'll see.
Gorzelanny was more effective and if Davey uses Gorzo in that role he might just be better.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I can just see StanK now, urging All Those Padres fans to "come on up I-5 and see your Padres play our Dodgers. And don't forget, Giant fans, it's just a short eight-hour drive down from 'Frisco to see your boys play our Dodgers. And you D-Back fans in Phoenix, don't forget..."

StanK is living proof that P.T. Barnum was wrong. You CAN fool all the people all the time. Look at StanK's resume...

Drew said...

Speaking of the bullpen, don't sleep on Craig Stammen. He's had a great spring: 10.2 innings pitched, 12 ks, 1 walk, 1.69 ERA, 0.75 whip.

My prediction for mild surprise of the camp: Gorzy gets waived and Craig goes north. Stammen makes a lot more sense balancing Detwiler as a righty long man and spot starter.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I kinda agree with you, Drew. If Det and Burnett are as solid as their ST would indicate, that could leave Gorzy the odd man out. Stammen seems to have more lives than a cat, but I think he wins in this matchup

Cwj said...

Anon 12:38- What stats are you using, to say that Sean Burnett was one of the worst relievers last year?

Unkyd said...

(bRAAP........)

NatsLady said...

Anyone up and watching M's game?

Anonymous said...

Where can you watch it? I thought it was delayed on mlb until 9?

NatsLady said...

If you have mlb.tv it's on.

Gonat said...

Drew said...
Speaking of the bullpen, don't sleep on Craig Stammen. He's had a great spring: 10.2 innings pitched, 12 ks, 1 walk, 1.69 ERA, 0.75 whip.

My prediction for mild surprise of the camp: Gorzy gets waived and Craig goes north. Stammen makes a lot more sense balancing Detwiler as a righty long man and spot starter.

March 28, 2012 1:00 AM
________________________________

I remember the discussion early in Spring Training of how Stammen came into camp as described looking larger especially in the rear end and legs. Best shape of his life?

Watching the 30/30 special last night, they made a similar observation of Gio Gonzalez's lower body.

MicheleS said...

Gonat..
Wait, now I have to monitor Gio's lower body? I have no reference point. I guess I will have to look at the video from his A's days!

;-)

NatsLady said...

We couldn't have paid Livo what the Stros are paying him just to teach Gio how to bunt?

NatsJack in Florida said...

NatsLady......ever get your I-phone and MLB.tv issues squared away.

I'm lovin' my android.

natsfan1a said...

Brace yourselves: there's a photo of Stan and Bud yucking it up in the new post. :-)

NatsLady said...

NJ, no problem on the iPhone (just a small screen). Not working on Android, they promise by "opening day" which they think is April 5. Thinking of buying a used iPad...

blovy8 said...

They missed losing Nix on the 30/30 preview too. That's actually looking like a big weakness unless Bernadina has learned to hit offspeed stuff or Ankiel's relaxed shoulders in his stance equal 40 points of batting average or something.

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