Pecking Order: Life on the Lidge

Brad Lidge isn't a very lucky guy right now. He was last year, when he converted all 41 of his save chances and was 7-for-7 in the postseason. Now, rumors of hidden injuries encircle him, though he's assured us he's 100 percent. His career K/9 rate of 12.38, tops all-time among relievers with at least 200 appearances and 300 innings, hasn't helped him stave off recent critics. The story really isn't all that complicated, if the subsequent analysis is not. The short answer is he's faced the meat of the opponent's order during a few close games and gave up a handful of lucky run-scoring base knocks and save-blowing long balls. Lidge's owners shouldn't fret, because he'll be back among the Top 15 closers in the game by year's end.

(Stats as of May 27, 2009.)

Matt Lindstrom, FLA 9-for-11 (82%), 19 IP, 19 Ks, 6.18 ERA, 1.68 WHIP Next in line: Leo Nunez Third in line: Kiki Calero

Fernando Rodney, DET 8-for-8 (100%), 18 IP, 13 Ks, 3.50 ERA, 1.06 WHIP Next in line: Brandon Lyon/ Joel Zumaya Third in line: Ryan Perry (minors)

Scott Downs, TOR 5-for-5 (100%), 20.1 IP, 23 K, 2.66 ERA, 0. 98 WHIP Next in line: Jason Frasor Third in line: Jesse Carlson/B.J. Ryan

LaTroy Hawkins, HOU 5-for-7 (71%), 19.2 IP, 18 Ks, 2.75 ERA, 1.27 WHIP Next in line: Chris Sampson Third in line: Wesley Wright

Huston Street, COL 7-for-7 (100%), 18.1 IP, 21 Ks, 3.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIP Next in line: Jason Grilli Third in line: Manny Corpas

George Sherrill, BAL 10-for-12 (83%), 19.2 IP, 21 Ks, 2.75 ERA, 1.27 WHIP Next in line: Chris Ray Third in line: Jim Johnson

Sherrill hasn't yielded an earned run since May 2, a nine-inning, nine-appearance run that includes 12 Ks, six saves and just two hits allowed. He's in no immediate danger of losing his job, especially since Chris Ray is now sporting an ERA of 10.13 -- in large part due to his previous two outings (0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 ER; 0.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER). Fernando Rodney, Huston Street and Scott Downs are all perfect on save chances thus far, although none can be considered a sure thing to last the season. If someone's already given up on Lidge and is seeking one of the aforementioned three in return for his fantasy services, I'd jump on it. LaTroy Hawkins is still the man in Houston, and should be for at least the next month.

Matt Capps, PIT Capps had a stroke of bad luck Monday night when a liner caught him in the right elbow. He'll be out for a few days with bruising and swelling and will be re-evaluated. While X-rays of his elbow were negative, and Capps is optimistic, he could still go on the DL.

Troy Percival, TB Percival is contemplating retirement after landing on the DL with right shoulder tendonitis -- the first time in his career that particular injury has sidelined him. He's endured a myriad of problems with his back, elbow, forearm, hip, hamstrings, left foot, rib cage, and goatee (just messin' on that last one), so the damaged wing could be the proverbial nail in his coffin.

Joakim Soria, KC Soria is in Arizona rehabbing his injured shoulder and threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Monday without any physical hindrances. He's slated to throw in two extended spring training games before he's activated -- which could happen as soon as early next week.

José Valverde, HOU The latest report has Valverde's shredded calf keeping him out until at least late June, but I suspect we won't see him until mid-July.

Joey Devine, OAK Devine underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the remainder of 2009.

Mike González, ATL 7-for-10 (70%), 19 IP, 25 Ks, 3.79 ERA, 1.32 WHIP Next in line: Rafael Soriano Third in line: Peter Moylan

Andrew Bailey, OAK 2-for-4 (50%), 29.2 IP, 2 HLDs, 37 Ks, 2.12 ERA, 0.91 WHIP Next in line: Brad Ziegler Third in line: Michael Wuertz

Joe Nelson, TB 2-for-2 (100%), 3 HLDs, 19 IP,19 Ks, 5.21 ERA, 1.84 WHIP Next in line: Dan Wheeler Third in line: Grant Balfour/Jason Isringhausen

Juan Cruz, KC 2-for-4 (50%), 20 IP, 13 Ks, 3.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIP Next in line: Ron Mahay/Robinson Tejeda Third in line: Jamey Wright/Kyle Farnsworth

David Aardsma, SEA 6-for-6 (100%), 21.2 IP, 24 Ks, 1.25 ERA, 1.11 WHIP Next in line: Brandon Morrow Third in line: Mark Lowe

Joel Hanrahan, WAS 5-for-8 (63%), 21.1 IP, 26 Ks, 5.91 ERA, 1.59 WHIP Next in line: Joe Beimel/Julian Tavarez Third in line: Kip Wells/Mike MacDougal

John Grabow, PIT 0-for-1 (0%), 6 HLDs, 21 IP, 17 Ks, 4.71 ERA, 1.76 WHIP Next in line: Sean Burnett Third in line: Tom Gorzelanny/Tyler Yates (DL)

The flu-weakened Brad Ziegler seems to have surrendered his job to rookie hurler Andrew Bailey, although Manager Bob Geren has steadfastly refused to name an outright closer. Bailey protected a one-run lead in the ninth on Tuesday night by retiring all three batters he faced, striking out two. He's worked 29.2 innings and struck out 37, making his 11.23 K/9 rate third among closers (after Jonathan Broxton -- 13.70; and Mike Gonzalez -- 11.84) -- if that's truly the role he's assumed. David Aardsma is off to a good start as new closer in Seattle, and Joel Hanrahan looks like a new man after a brief acquiescence in Washington. In Tampa Bay, the bullpen is scrambling to dub an heir to Percival. While Joe Nelson has the early support of Joe Maddon -- and it's probably not going to be Grant Balfour (5.75 ERA, 20.1 IP, 19 K, 14 BB) or Jason Isringhausen (3 IP, 2 ER), I'm adding Dan Wheeler. He's got what it takes to be a solid closer (24 saves in 2007-08) and could be in line for plenty of save opportunities by June. C.J. Wilson won't be picking up too many more saves -- since Frank Francisco appears to be recovered from his biceps tendinitis.

Jonathan Papelbon, BOS 12-for-13 (92%), 21 IP, 24 Ks, 2.57 ERA, 1.38 WHIP Next in line: Takashi Saito Third in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard

Francisco Rodríguez, NYM 13-for-13 (100%), 21.2 IP, 21 Ks, 0.83 ERA, 1.02 WHIP Next in line: J.J. Putz Third in line: Pedro Feliciano

Mariano Rivera, NYY 9-for-10 (90%), 19.2 IP, 24 Ks, 2.75 ERA, 1.07 WHIP Next in line: Brian Bruney/Phil Coke Third in line: Edwar Ramirez

Jonathan Broxton, LAD 11-for-13 (85%), 23 IP, 35 Ks, 1.17 ERA, 0.61 WHIP Next in line: Cory Wade Third in line: Ramon Troncoso

Joe Nathan, MIN 7-for-9 (78%), 17.1 IP, 18 Ks, 2.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP Next in line: Matt Guerrier Third in line: Jesse Crain

Heath Bell, SD 13-for-13 (100%), 19.1 IP, 24 Ks, 0.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIP Next in line: Cla Meredith Third in line: Edward Mujica

Bobby Jenks, CWS 10-for-11 (91%), 16 IP, 14 Ks, 3.38 ERA, 1.25 WHIP Next in line: Octavio Dotel Third in line: Matt Thornton/Scott Linebrink

Trevor Hoffman, MIL 11-for-11 (100%), 13 IP, 10 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP Next in line: Carlos Villanueva Third in line: Todd Coffey

Francisco Cordero, CIN 13-for-13 (100%), 21 IP, 21 Ks, 1.71 ERA, 1.14 WHIP Next in line: David Weathers Third in line: Jared Burton/Arthur Rhodes

Frank Francisco, TEX 10-for-10 (100%), 16.2 IP, 16 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP Next in line: C.J. Wilson/Eddie Guardado Third in line: Darren O'Day

Chad Qualls, ARI 11-for-13 (85%), 20 IP, 22 Ks, 3.60 ERA, 1.30 WHIP Next in line: Tony Peña Third in line: Juan Gutierrez/Tom Gordon (DL)

Brad Lidge, PHI 9-for-13 (69%), 20.1 IP, 22 Ks, 8.85 ERA, 2.07 WHIP Next in line: Ryan Madson Third in line: Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey

Brian Wilson, SF 9-for-12 (75%), 21.1 IP, 22 Ks, 4.64 ERA, 1.36 WHIP Next in line: Jeremy Affeldt Third in line: Merkin Valdez

Kerry Wood, CLE 7-for-9 (78%), 16 IP, 20 Ks, 6.75 ERA, 1.75 WHIP Next in line: Jensen Lewis Third in line: Rafael Betancourt

Ryan Franklin, STL 11-for-12 (92%), 17.2 IP, 15 Ks, 1.53 ERA, 0.79 WHIP Next in line: Jason Motte Third in line: Kyle McClellan/Chris Pérez

Brian Fuentes, LAA 12-for-14 (86%), 16.2 IP, 19 Ks, 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP Next in line: Jose Arredondo Third in line: Justin Speier/Scot Shields (DL)

Kevin Gregg, CHI (NL) 6-for-7 (86%), 18.1 IP, 21 Ks, 5.40 ERA, 1.69 WHIP Next in line: Carlos Mármol Third in line: Aaron Heilman/Jeff Samardzija

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