10/04/09 11:00 PM EST
Lidge's cutter may alter lefties' approach
Phils reliever adds pitch to arsenal, will debut it in NLDS
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
It's another option. It's something to get hitters thinking a little bit.
Lidge introduced a cut fastball in Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park, a pitch he will throw to left-handed hitters. He threw a couple to pinch-hitter Ross Gload, who struck out swinging on a 2-2 slider.
"It's not a pitch I'm expecting to be like my regular fastball and slider," Lidge told MLB.com. "But it is a pitch I am expecting to give them something else to think about. If I can throw it for a strike, OK, now they have to respect it. If they found a good pattern on me with fastballs and sliders, which maybe they have, maybe they haven't ... if they have, that takes them completely out of their rhythm. It's something I've seen a lot of guys throw very effectively to lefties."
Why a cut fastball? Lidge has had trouble this season with his fastball command, particularly throwing inside to left-handed hitters. It could explain why they are hitting .319 against him this season, compared to .285 against right-handers. Lidge said the cut fastball can do two things:
1) It serves the purpose of having something hard he can throw inside.
2) It gives hitters a third pitch to consider.
"When you add that element, it can really change a hitter's approach," Lidge said.
Lidge is 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and 31 saves in 42 opportunities this season. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel hinted that Lidge could be closing games in the postseason, although right-hander Ryan Madson remains an option.
Lidge tried throwing a cut fastball with Houston a couple of years ago, but ditched it because it wasn't working.
"I've actually thrown it in the bullpen for a year or two," Lidge said. "I've just never brought it into the game. But I have thrown it in the bullpen a lot, and all the catchers have told me it is a good pitch and I should throw it in a game. It looks like it's working good. I just thought, yeah, if I ever need to, I will. In Houston, I had no idea what I was doing with it. I was just throwing it as hard as I could. It was going everywhere. Since then I've been able to work on the craft of throwing it and figure out why you throw it. Back then I didn't even know why. I just thought it would look cool."
|Gm. 1||PHI 5, COL 1||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||COL 5, PHI 4||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||PHI 6, COL 5||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 4||PHI 5, COL 4||Wrap||Video|
Asked if he felt comfortable throwing a new pitch in the postseason, he said he is.
"I'm not trying to experiment a lot right now," Lidge said. "I feel good with the command of my fastball and slider, but it's something to get lefties to think about."
"It was a good pitch for him," catcher Carlos Ruiz said. "I liked it. Sometimes we've tried to go to lefties with fastballs inside and he doesn't have the control to lefties. So I like the cutter because it will protect the slider. "
Gload said it was a nice twist for Lidge.
"Mariano Rivera's is effective," he said. "He can tell guys it's coming and it doesn't matter. If [Lidge] can control it and if he can throw it for strikes, yeah. I think I fouled off one. It looked like it was going to be a good pitch to hit, and it probably did run a little bit on me."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.