Perfect last year, Brad Lidge has been anything but this year. He had a 1.95 ERA with 41 saves in 41 opportunities last year. This year, he's got a 9.15 ERA with 8 saves in 12 opportunities. He's given up runs in 11 of his 21 appearances so far this year. Contrast that with last year, when he gave up runs in only 12 of his 72 appearances (with earned runs in only 10 of those games).
His pitching is taking its toll on the Phillies. He cost the Phillies a series sweep against the Yankees with his blown save on Saturday, and almost cost them a series win with another blown save Sunday. Of his four blown saves, the Phillies came back and won two of them, but the cost of the other two is a 2 game swing in the standings.
Digging deeper into Lidge's stats is even more troubling. Opponents have a Pujols-ian line of .330/.420/.640 against Lidge. You read that right -- opponents have a 1.060 OPS against Lidge so far this season. He's giving up more than 2 baserunners per inning pitched. His strikeout rate is down by more than 2 strikeouts per inning (11.9 to 9.6); his walk rate is up by almost 1 batter per inning (4.54 to 5.49); and his home run rate is up by almost 2.5 per inning (0.26 to 2.75). There's nothing good in these numbers.
But, maybe some other numbers show that Lidge isn't all horrible. His BABIP against is .400 so far this year, an unsustainably high number. For some perspective, last year it was .317, and in his career, other than his rookie year, he's never had a BABIP above .355. Basically, he's gotten incredibly unlucky so far this year with balls in play, and that shouldn't continue.
His context-independent pitching numbers also are not as bad as his 9.15 ERA would make you believe. His FIP is "only" 6.99 and his QERA is 4.66. Of course, this doesn't mean he's actually been good this year, but it does mean he hasn't been as bad as it seems.
As we all know, so far Charlie has said that he's sticking with Lidge. Now it's your turn. Is Charlie right? Should Lidge be "demoted" to middle relief to work out his issues? Or should he take a two week "vacation" on the DL to try to recover his form?