“Brad Lidge retired the side in order a week ago in Washington and again Wednesday night in South Florida. He finished off a sweep of the Marlins on Thursday and registered his eighth save in nine chances by getting the final out Friday against the Mets.
That was a good sign for the Phillies‘ pursuit of history, because history tells us that without an effective closer you don’t have a snowball’s chance in August of winning the World Series.
Lidge and the Phillies proved a year ago that you can reach the Fall Classic with an unreliable closer, but you can’t finish the job without the right man to finish the job. So even as the Phillies try to survive the perpetual sequence of debilitating injuries that have dogged them since their home opener in April, the elephant in the room remains the man in charge of getting the final three outs.
Only four of the 38 teams to reach the World Series since 1990 did so with their regular-season saves leader converting fewer than 80 percent of his opportunities.
The short list: Cleveland’s Jose Mesa at 76 percent (16 of 21) in 1997, St. Louis’ Jason Isringhausen at 77 percent (33 of 43) in 2006, Colorado’s Brian Fuentes at 74 percent (20 of 27) in 2007, and Lidge at 74 percent (31 of 42) in 2009.
Lidge, having converted 13 of 17 save opportunities through Friday, is at 76 percent.
Each man on the above list is an interesting story and perhaps a point of reference for Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee as they decide how to handle the Lidge situation during the final two months of the season.”
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