Cory a Keeper? Lidle's Numbers Deserve Attention

One of the decisions that the Phillies face this off-season is the fate of Cory Lidle. Since his arrival in Philadelphia about six weeks ago, Lidle has been hit and miss in the Phillies rotation. The decision though won't be based on just what Lidle does in his stay in Philadelphia this season, but what he may be able to bring to the rotation in the not too distant future.

After some adjustment pains, Cory Lidle settled in just fine with the Phillies. In back to back games against Milwaukee and New York, Lidle threw complete game shutouts allowing just seven hits and one walk in his 18 innings of work. While nobody believes that Lidle can consistently be that dominating, a closer look at the stats shows that he can be effective.

The least that you can say about Lidle is that he'll eat up some innings. Lidle will pass the 200 inning mark in his next start with the Phillies, considering that he's at 198 innings on the season so far. Over the last three seasons coming into 2004, Lidle averaged 190 innings of work. With his current numbers included, his career ERA is 4.59 and he has a record of 55-51. Not overwhelming stats, but again, delving deeper isn't a bad idea.

Since coming to the Phillies, Lidle is 3-2, 4.41. He currently ranks ninth in the NL in innings pitched and is second in complete games with five, three of which were shutouts. While other pitchers struggle at Citizens Bank Park, Lidle appears to have a particular comfort zone, going 2-1, 3.08 in his starts at The Bank. Part of his success is from being primarily a ground ball pitcher. Because of the movement that he gets on his fastball, Lidle was initially thought of as a reliever and possibly as a closer. It wasn't really until 2001 – his first season in Oakland - that Lidle was used exclusively as a starter.

If Lidle were to stay in Philadelphia, he would be fed a steady diet of the National League East. So, how has he fared against teams other than the Phillies in the east? Overall, he has a mark of 11-2, 3.26 against NL East opponents, including being 6-0 this season. He is especially strong against the Mets, going 7-2, 2.92 against the New Yorkers.

Lidle has shown an ability to eat some innings. He's a groundball pitcher and he throws well against teams in the Phillies division. Those numbers should be enough to convince the Phillies to pursue Lidle. While he won't be confused with a top of the rotation starter, the good news is that he won't command that kind of money either. In 2004, Lidle made $2.75 million for the final year of his contract and is eligible for free agency. Watching the bidding on Lidle will be interesting, but the Phillies should consider trying to lock him up before he even hits the free agent market. With Eric Milton and Kevin Millwood also entering free agency, Lidle should rank no worse than second in the pecking order of pitchers that the Phillies will try to keep. Left-hander Milton wants to return to Philadelphia and it's likely that the Phillies will at least make an attempt to sign him. Millwood is all but gone. At the very least, Lidle should be offered arbitration, although signing him to a longer term deal would be a good move for the Phillies.

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