Saturday, August 15, 2009

Should Chan Ho Park replace Brad Lidge?

After his blown save tonight against the Braves, Brad Lidge is 0-5, 22 SV, 8 blown saves, 7.22 ERA.

He could become only the 2nd pitcher to finish with 20+ Saves and an ERA higher than 7.00. The other?

2004 Shawn Chacon (Rockies)

In 2008, he had one of the most dominant seasons any reliever has had -
41 SV, 0 Blown Saves, 1.95 ERA, 11.94 K/9 are stats only matched once in ML history:

2003 Eric Gagne (Dodgers)

The Phillies are trying to repeat as World Series Champs and just made a great move to get Cliff Lee, but can they win with a closer this bad? He's had a lot of success in his career, which is what makes it such a tough decision. Other closers probably would have been replaced by now. His numbers have been bad every month:

Month by Month
April 7.27, 4 SV, 1 BlSV
May 7.98, 8 SV, 3 BlSV
June 6.75, 3 SV, 2 BlSV
July 5.91, 6 SV, 0 BlSV
August 7.20, 2 SV, 2 Bl SV

He was on the DL in June and Ryan Madson replaced him, blowing 4 saves in 7 chances.

You don't want to install a rookie closer now, but you also can't have a completely unreliable closer.

One possible solution
I'd give Chan Ho Park a chance to close. I'm sure a lot of people would think it's crazy, considering his track record over the years and lack of closing experience. His numbers once he became a full-time reliever in Philadelphia are really good. Last year, he had 2 saves and 3 saves with the Dodgers, but that's not a big enough sample size to mean anything.

Apparently Scott Boras tried to sell Red Sox on him as a closer a few years ago. He has really settled in as a reliever and is pitching great right now. He started out the year as a starter, which skewed his overall numbers (75.1 IP, 4.66 ERA):

Post All-Star Break:
11 G, 1.65 ERA (3rd best in NL, 15+ P), .220 BAA, 18 K, 2 BB

Since his last start (on May 17th):
22 G, 41 IP, 2.63 ERA

Is converting a 36 year old former starter with a very mixed track record into a closer in the middle of a playoff race a good idea? Not when I put it like that, but there don't seem to be a lot of great options. If people bring up his mental toughness, well, he's dealt with a lot of failure since 2001 and worked through it to become successful again.

The safer play might be Ryan Madson or trading for someone. Sticking with Lidge does not seem like the best move and I don't think they can wait too much longer to make a change. If Chan Ho keeps pitching like this, they may have to think about it.

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