Just a week into the season, Brad Lidge has been demoted. The Houston Astros named Dan Wheeler their new closer Monday, one day after Lidge gave up five runs in just two thirds of an inning against the Cardinals.
Right now Lidge’s stats are almost comical. In 2 games he’s pitched 1 2/3 innings, has a 16.20 ERA, a blown save, and has given up 5 hits, 6 runs, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 walks and just 1 strikeout and a .455 batting average against. Ouch.
This all comes after a year in which Lidge posted a 1-5 record with a 5.23 ERA, 32 saves and 6 blown saves.
Astros manager Phil Garner managed to keep a straight face when he said this was a tough decision. “I wrestled with this all of yesterday,” he said. “I feel that I have to make this move for the benefit of the team. In the situation that we are in right now, we can’t afford to lose and more ballgames late.”
Lidge, to his credit was diplomatic. “It was surprising, but not totally unjustified,” he said. “I understand that it’s about results. Right now, my first two outings haven’t been there.”
Lidge, who saved 42 games in 2005 while posting a 2.29 ERA, hasn’t been the same since Albert Pujols ruined his career in game 5 of the 2005 NLCS with probably the biggest home run, well, ever (see video below). If you don’t remember, the Astros were one out away from heading to their first World Series before Pujols’ mammoth blast forced a game 6.
Lidge will now move into a middle relief role and Garner said there’s a chance he could earn back the closer role. For the record, Wheeler is currently 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three appearances. Sweet.
As promised, video of the exact moment that Brad Lidge’s career jumped the shark:
*Update: Wheeler closed out his first save of the season in the Astros’ 5-3 win over the Cubs on Monday