Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Focus on Cory Lidle 

I’ve been concentrating to much of late on the status and quality of the Phillies offense that I have utterly neglected to discuss the Phillies pitching staff. I’ve always been a big booster of Cory Lidle. The decision of the Phillies to add Lidle to the team in the fall of 2004 was an underestimated move. Lidle is a sinkerball pitcher that power hitters find difficult to take deep. Lidle, I was certain, would do a great job with the Phillies.

I have to say that I am mildly disappointed by Lidle’s performance with the Phillies. He’s mostly done his job: keeping the ball down and in the park. But he hasn’t quite been the performer that I expected. At the moment, for example, he is surrendering 1.21 home runs per nine innings. I think that is far too high for a groundball pitcher to be giving up. Let’s compare Lidle to the rest of the rotation:

Home Runs / 9 Innings:
Hamels: 1.00
Myers: 1.19
Lidle: 1.21
Lieber: 1.36
Madson: 1.58
Floyd: 2.31
Team: 1.19

As you might guess, the lower team number indicates that the Phillies bullpen has been pitching well and keeping the Phillies chestnuts out of the fire. Lidle is better than Lieber, Madson, and Floyd, but lags (slightly) Myers and Hamel. I have to admit to being impressed by Hamels, but that is another post … Still, I think Lidle is giving up too many homers. His career average is a stingy 1.00, and he gave up just 0.88 with the Phillies in 2005. Clearly, Lidle is off his game … Let’s look at walks surrendered:

Walks / 9 Innings
Lieber: 1.24
Lidle: 2.95
Myers: 3.39
Madson: 3.69
Hamels: 4.84
Floyd: 5.30
Team: 3.40

Much like Lieber, Lidle has a strong talent for not surrendering free base-runners. Lidle’s 2.95 is actually well off his career average of 2.33, and nearly an extra walk per inning compared to 2005 (1.95). Again, Lidle is off his game.

Lidle’s ERA is 4.95, but as many have shown before, ERAs depend on the quality of the defense playing around you, so a better stat to look at is FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching. All FIP does is evaluate a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed).

FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching
Myers: 4.31
Hamels: 4.32
Lidle: 4.41
Lieber: 4.49
Madson: 5.46
Floyd: 7.02
Team: 4.66

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor HR/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP

Lidle is out-pitching is “real” ERA by 0.54. The secret to why Cory has done decently well in 2006 has been his increased strikeouts. In 2005, Lidle averaged 5.90 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2006 he’s K’ing 7.21 per nine innings. That is a terrific turnaround. I’m not quite sure what is behind it, but it is working well for him. Despite Lidle’s struggles with home runs and walks, his FIP ERA is better than the team average of 4.66 and better than the league average of 4.57 …

I am disappointed by Cory Lidle’s performance in 2006, but I hold out hope that he will improve and get his 2005 groove back. As you can seen by Cory’s impressive FIP, he’s not pitching badly in many respects. Note that he’s tied for the team lead in quality starts with eleven in eighteen starts (Quality Start is a start where the pitcher goes six or more innings and surrenders three or less runs). I think Cory Lidle can do much better and when he starts lowering those home run and walk numbers, he will be a formidable pitcher.

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