|The master of disaster in action. (Icon/SMI)|
Brad Lidge and Matt Capps: two closers pitching so poorly, you might suspect some other team is paying them to lose games. Except no one would pay the Pirates to lose, besides perhaps their own fans wanting to get the first overall pick in next year’s amateur draft, despite it being Strasburg-less.
Capps has a 6.41 ERA for the year and a 10.71 ERA for the month of August. “Mr. Perfect” last year, Lidge is no better with a 7.27 ERA for the season and an 8.44 ERA in August. It must be those hot summer days, global warming perhaps—a process currently being sped up by the heat generated from the friction off Neftali Feliz’s fastball.
The Pirates have no real replacement for Capps. Yeah, Chris Bootcheck is not happening and neither is Jesse Chavez, Jeff Karstens, or Evan Meek—but why not Joel Hanrahan? He seems at least stash-worthy to me at this point.
He has closing experience, however limited, and also is showing some signs of effectiveness, like a 10.01 K/9 rate. The walks are manageable and you could certainly blame luck for some of his problems—no one deserves a .432 BABIP except perhaps the guys tossing meatballs at the Home Run Derby. And that’s with a bunch of small children roaming the outfield.
Still, the Pirates have incentive to keep Capps as closer: To keep his trade value this offseason as high as it can be.
Unlike Capps, Lidge does have a no-brainer replacement in Ryan Madson. Madson has been excellent all year, except in June when he was—of course—filling in as closer for an injured Lidge. The problem the Phillies have in replacing Lidge is they do not want a bullpen in a state of flux while in contention, and certainly not in the playoffs.
Still, you can only sit complacent for so long until the flame of blown saves burns down the match and starts to sear your fingers. Ouch.
My point is that Capps and Lidge might be decent trade targets for those whose deadlines have not yet been passed. If you’re desperate for some saves and don’t want to trade away much to acquire one, see what it will take to get disgruntled owners to part with one of them. They will probably just be happy to have the nuisance off their hands.
For those who do own Lidge and Capps, you have to hang onto them. You don’t currently have to start them, especially if you are engaged in more of an ERA and WHIP battle than a saves one. But if Mike MacDougal can get five saves in one week, Lidge and Capps could easily do the same. Both have good enough track records that over the final month-and-a-half of regular season they can pitch well enough to keep their jobs and get some saves along the way.