Bradley Thomas Lidge (born December 23, 1976 in Sacramento, California) is a relief pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies of Major League Baseball. Nicknamed "Lights Out", he is the all-time leader in strikeouts per nine innings (12.98 K/9) among pitchers with at least 200 appearances in their career. Lidge throws a four-seam fastball that consistently reaches 97 or 98 miles per hour, as well as a hard, sharp breaking slider that ranges from 87 to 90 mph.
Lidge attended Notre Dame. He won the Big East player of the year award during his junior season under coach Paul Maineri, leading the conference with an 8-2 record and 93 strikeouts in 80.1 innings.
Lidge was a 1998 first-round draft pick by the Houston Astros, taken 17th overall. He missed parts of his first four professional seasons (at Quad Cities, Kissimmee, Round Rock, and New Orleans) with injuries, including a torn rotator cuff and a broken forearm that threatened his career. Lidge would overcome these injuries, making his debut in the major-leagues on April 26, 2002 against the Atlanta Braves, serving as a middle relief pitcher in the Astros' bullpen. He started the only game of his career in September of that year against the Milwaukee Brewers. Lidge went 2-for-2 with a double and 2 RBIs at the plate, but was pulled when he strained an intercostal muscle in his ribcage after pitching three scoreless innings with four strikeouts, two walks and a hit batsman.
In 2003, Lidge was the winning pitcher in the Astros historic six-pitcher tandem which no-hit the New York Yankees on June 11 (the most recent no-hitter in Astros history). That year, Lidge was voted Astros Rookie of the Year by the Houston Chapter of the BBWAA.
Following the trades of Billy Wagner in the 2003 off-season and Octavio Dotel in the summer of 2004, the Astros moved Lidge from setup man to closer. He set a new National League record for strikeouts by a reliever with 157, passing Goose Gossage's total of 151 set in 1977. The mark is third all-time for relievers, behind Dick Radatz's 181 in 1964, and Mark Eichhorn's 166 in 1986.
In his first All-Star Game appearance in 2005, Lidge pitched the bottom of the seventh, striking out all three batters he faced. He threw 11 pitches (2 balls) to Melvin Mora, Mike Sweeney, and Garret Anderson, who did not make contact with any of Lidge's pitches. Lidge became the first pitcher to strike out the side in his first All-Star appearance since Bill Caudill and Dwight Gooden in 1984.
Later in 2005, Lidge finished the season with a 2.29 ERA and a career-high 42 saves. That year, Lidge ranked third in the National League in saves and became the second Houston Astros pitcher ever to record at least 40 saves in one season alongside Billy Wagner.
During the 2005 NLCS, Lidge gave up a 3-run home run to Albert Pujols in Game 5 in Houston which forced a Game 6 back in St. Louis, which the Astros would win to clinch their first World Series berth in franchise history. In Game 2 of the 2005 World Series, Lidge gave up a walk off home run to Scott Podsednik. It was only Podsednik's second home run the entire year and it put the White Sox up 2-0 in the series; they proceeded to sweep the Astros to win the championship.
Lidge pitched for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March of 2006, throwing two scoreless innings. Later that year, Lidge became the third pitcher in Astros history to record 100 saves with the club, after Wagner and Dave Smith, and this led the Astros to sign Lidge to a one-year, $5.35 million contract that would keep him in Houston through the 2007 season. In 2006, Lidge threw the fastest pitch of his career, at 102 mph.
However, Lidge was demoted from the closer's role on April 9, 2007. Lidge would later regain his role in mid-June as the closer after going 10+ scoreless innings and posting a 2.45 era. On July 17, 2007, Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth inning against the Washington Nationals, striking out two and walking one, to earn his first save of the 2007 season. Lidge finished the season 5–3 with 19 saves in 27 chances for the Astros. On November 7, 2007, Lidge was acquired by the Philadelphia Phillies along with infielder Eric Bruntlett in exchange for outfielder Michael Bourn, pitcher Geoff Geary, and minor leaguer Mike Costanzo.
In February 2008, Lidge tore the meniscus in his right knee while pitching off the mound during Spring Training. To exacerbate matters, this was the same knee that he had had surgery on during the off-season. Later in the month, he had successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair the torn meniscus. As a result, Brad sat out until April 5 to start the season.
During the early 2008 season, Lidge showed signs that he regained the dominant form he displayed in his earlier career. In the opening two months of the season, he converted 12 save opportunities and allowed just two earned runs. In May, Lidge returned to Minute Maid Park, where he was greeted by a mixed reaction from Astros fans, but he recorded his 12th save of the season against his former team. He opened the month of June, usually the start of the summer's heavy-hitting season, with three saves earned in three straight games versus the Florida Marlins and the Cincinnati Reds.
In July 2008, Lidge signed a 3-year contract extension with the Phillies. This was partially a reward for his performance so far during the season, but also served the purpose of keeping him off the open market in the offseason; it saved the team from having to compete for his services. Lidge also set new Phillies records by converting his first 19 save opportunities, and by recording 28 straight saves.
Lidge was named to the roster of the 2008 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. He ended up the final pitcher available in the game, and pitched in the 15th inning. He allowed a game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning, as the American League won the game, 4–3.
He currently resides in Englewood, Colorado with his wife, Lindsey, and his daughter, Avery Grace.
- ↑ The Official Site of Major League Baseball: News: 'Lights Out' Lidge slams door
- ↑ Big Days in Astros History - June 11, 2003 - Six Astros Pitchers No-Hit Yankees
- ↑ Sports Baseball Jon Lester Milt Pappas Major League Baseball NL West Division - SI Vault
- ↑ The Official Site of The Houston Astros: Official Info: Hidalgo, Pettitte, Clemens to be honored at 19th annual Houston Baseball Dinner
- ↑ ESPN - High-speed pursuit - MLB
- ↑ http://houston.astros.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=
- ↑ After signing deal, Lidge looking to win | phillies.com: News
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or The Baseball Cube