The skipper gave Lidge his backing despite the embattled closer blowing his Major-League-leading 11th save of the season against the Marlins Wednesday night.
But Manuel sure didn’t sound confident even if he said he was confident while talking about his closer with Phillies.com’s Todd Zolecki.
"He was our closer last year and we signed him to be our closer now," Manuel said. "He's struggling. But at the same time, it's hard for us to close the game out. It's tough. It's kind of what we've got. I've got confidence in him. I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That's about all I can say. I pull for him every time he goes out there, believe me. I guarantee you that."
Come on Charlie -- pull for him? Give us a break!
This isn’t Little League -- you can’t be a manager and have rooting interests. Instead Manuel needs to put the best player out there and right now that isn’t Lidge.
On Wednesday night Lidge huffed and puffed through the ninth. He barely ever came anywhere close to Paul Bako’s target behind the plate and when Lidge actually threw a strike the Marlins hitters scorched the ball.
Heck, the only two outs Lidge recorded were on a hot shot to right field and a borderline called third strike.
Lidge is lost and the Phillies don’t have time to let him find himself.
So Manuel needs to act now and turn off the lights on “Lights Out Lidge.” The perfect season was a year ago, not now. The skipper’s concern now should be to get this team back to the World Series -- anything else would be failure.
The problem Manuel faces is that Ryan Madson -- the only other reliever with closer’s stuff -- proved he doesn’t have the mindset to close (six blown saves in 14 chances) so he is out of the question. Who is left?
Maybe its time for Charlie to shake things up and take either Pedro Martinez or J.A. Happ out of the rotation and into the closer’s role. Both can’t be in the postseason rotation anyway so one is going to get penned come October.
Why not make the move now? Give Pedro or Happ that chance to learn the role before the postseason starts. If Manuel doesn’t and sticks with Lidge than this team won’t need to worry about a closer in the World Series or NLCS because their playoff run won’t make it out of the divisional round.