Okay. The title is a bit unfair. Lidge certainly earned his moniker of "lights out" last year. His performance was otherwise superhuman. No blown saves? The entire year? And in the playoffs? Almost unreal. But this year is another story. He has been inconsistent, has had injury set-backs, and there are already rumblings of a possible shake up in our bullpen with the possible return of Myers, Pedro and others.
This begs the question...unless Lidge fully returns to form, do you want him in the closers role come October? The Mitch Williams analogy might be a stretch, but there are similarities. We all remember with horror his performance in the 1993 World Series. The game winning home run given up in Game 6 iced the series, but his role in Game 4 (in which we were about 6-7 runs) was even worse. Personally, I don’t blame Mitch for any of this. I blame the manager. By the time we reached the dance, he was so overused that he had lost crucial velocity on his fastball and was having real trouble with pitch location (even more than normal). Despite the pleas of Curt Schilling and our fan base, Jim Fregosi stuck with his guy. Fregosi’s post-series rationalization was that you go with the guy that got you there. We all know how that turned out.
Has the organization learned from past mistakes? If Brad Lidge remains inconsistent, will the club give him the ball when it matters most? The pressure to do so will be immense, and largely tied to Brad’s performance last year. Here’s hoping that Charlie and the men upstairs have short memories and do what is right this year, whether it's Brad or someone else. Otherwise, that recurring nightmare of 1993 may haunt us all once again.