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, FLA9-for-11 (82%), 19 IP, 19 Ks, 6.18 ERA, 1.68 WHIPNext in line: Leo NunezThird in line: Kiki Calero

Fernando Rodney, DET8-for-8 (100%), 18 IP, 13 Ks, 3.50 ERA, 1.06 WHIPNext in line: Brandon Lyon/ Joel ZumayaThird in line: Ryan Perry (minors)

Scott Downs, TOR5-for-5 (100%), 20.1 IP, 23 K, 2.66 ERA, 0. 98 WHIPNext in line: Jason FrasorThird in line: Jesse Carlson/B.J. Ryan

LaTroy Hawkins, HOU5-for-7 (71%), 19.2 IP, 18 Ks, 2.75 ERA, 1.27 WHIPNext in line: Chris SampsonThird in line: Wesley Wright

Huston Street, COL7-for-7 (100%), 18.1 IP, 21 Ks, 3.44 ERA, 1.15 WHIPNext in line: Jason GrilliThird in line: Manny Corpas

George Sherrill, BAL10-for-12 (83%), 19.2 IP, 21 Ks, 2.75 ERA, 1.27 WHIPNext in line: Chris RayThird 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, PITCapps 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, TBPercival 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, KCSoria 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, HOUThe 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, OAKDevine underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the remainder of 2009.

Mike González, ATL7-for-10 (70%), 19 IP, 25 Ks, 3.79 ERA, 1.32 WHIPNext in line: Rafael SorianoThird in line: Peter Moylan

Andrew Bailey, OAK2-for-4 (50%), 29.2 IP, 2 HLDs, 37 Ks, 2.12 ERA, 0.91 WHIPNext in line: Brad ZieglerThird in line: Michael Wuertz

Joe Nelson, TB2-for-2 (100%), 3 HLDs, 19 IP,19 Ks, 5.21 ERA, 1.84 WHIPNext in line: Dan WheelerThird in line: Grant Balfour/Jason Isringhausen

Juan Cruz, KC2-for-4 (50%), 20 IP, 13 Ks, 3.15 ERA, 1.15 WHIPNext in line: Ron Mahay/Robinson TejedaThird in line: Jamey Wright/Kyle Farnsworth

David Aardsma, SEA6-for-6 (100%), 21.2 IP, 24 Ks, 1.25 ERA, 1.11 WHIPNext in line: Brandon MorrowThird in line: Mark Lowe

Joel Hanrahan, WAS5-for-8 (63%), 21.1 IP, 26 Ks, 5.91 ERA, 1.59 WHIPNext in line: Joe Beimel/Julian TavarezThird in line: Kip Wells/Mike MacDougal

John Grabow, PIT0-for-1 (0%), 6 HLDs, 21 IP, 17 Ks, 4.71 ERA, 1.76 WHIPNext in line: Sean BurnettThird 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, BOS12-for-13 (92%), 21 IP, 24 Ks, 2.57 ERA, 1.38 WHIPNext in line: Takashi SaitoThird in line: Hideki Okajima/Daniel Bard

Francisco Rodríguez, NYM13-for-13 (100%), 21.2 IP, 21 Ks, 0.83 ERA, 1.02 WHIPNext in line: J.J. PutzThird in line: Pedro Feliciano

Mariano Rivera, NYY9-for-10 (90%), 19.2 IP, 24 Ks, 2.75 ERA, 1.07 WHIPNext in line: Brian Bruney/Phil CokeThird in line: Edwar Ramirez

Jonathan Broxton, LAD11-for-13 (85%), 23 IP, 35 Ks, 1.17 ERA, 0.61 WHIPNext in line: Cory WadeThird in line: Ramon Troncoso

Joe Nathan, MIN7-for-9 (78%), 17.1 IP, 18 Ks, 2.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIPNext in line: Matt GuerrierThird in line: Jesse Crain

Heath Bell, SD13-for-13 (100%), 19.1 IP, 24 Ks, 0.47 ERA, 0.88 WHIPNext in line: Cla MeredithThird in line: Edward Mujica

Bobby Jenks, CWS10-for-11 (91%), 16 IP, 14 Ks, 3.38 ERA, 1.25 WHIPNext in line: Octavio DotelThird in line: Matt Thornton/Scott Linebrink

Trevor Hoffman, MIL11-for-11 (100%), 13 IP, 10 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIPNext in line: Carlos VillanuevaThird in line: Todd Coffey

Francisco Cordero, CIN13-for-13 (100%), 21 IP, 21 Ks, 1.71 ERA, 1.14 WHIPNext in line: David WeathersThird in line: Jared Burton/Arthur Rhodes

Frank Francisco, TEX10-for-10 (100%), 16.2 IP, 16 Ks, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIPNext in line: C.J. Wilson/Eddie GuardadoThird in line: Darren O'Day

Chad Qualls, ARI11-for-13 (85%), 20 IP, 22 Ks, 3.60 ERA, 1.30 WHIPNext in line: Tony PeñaThird in line: Juan Gutierrez/Tom Gordon (DL)

Brad Lidge, PHI9-for-13 (69%), 20.1 IP, 22 Ks, 8.85 ERA, 2.07 WHIPNext in line: Ryan MadsonThird in line: Chad Durbin/Clay Condrey

Brian Wilson, SF9-for-12 (75%), 21.1 IP, 22 Ks, 4.64 ERA, 1.36 WHIPNext in line: Jeremy AffeldtThird in line: Merkin Valdez

Kerry Wood, CLE7-for-9 (78%), 16 IP, 20 Ks, 6.75 ERA, 1.75 WHIPNext in line: Jensen LewisThird in line: Rafael Betancourt

Ryan Franklin, STL11-for-12 (92%), 17.2 IP, 15 Ks, 1.53 ERA, 0.79 WHIPNext in line: Jason MotteThird in line: Kyle McClellan/Chris Pérez

Brian Fuentes, LAA12-for-14 (86%), 16.2 IP, 19 Ks, 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIPNext in line: Jose ArredondoThird 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 WHIPNext in line: Carlos MármolThird in line: Aaron Heilman/Jeff Samardzija

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