(c) Houston Astros

See Also:
Baseball Reference
Retrosheet
Baseball Almanac
Wikipedia

Position: P      Born: Dec 23, 1976      Bats: Right      Throws: Right

A former first-round draft choice in 1998, Lidge coupled a high-90s fastball with a knee-buckling low-90s slider that befuddled hitters. After two years setting up for Billy Wagner and Octavio Dotel, Lidge became the closer when Dotel was traded in the June 2004 trade that brought Carlos Beltran to Houston.

He racked up 103 saves over the next three seasons and six more in the postseason but might have been best known for surrending a monster home run to St. Louis' Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS when he was an out away from sending the Astros to their first World Series. When the Astros needed a pitcher to close out Game 6 two nights later, Manager Phil Garner turned to Dan Wheeler, not Lidge, to wrap up the title.

Some say the problems began then although Lidge insists it didn't. Likely, bad mechanics and a sore knee did more to contribute to his increasing lack of dependability. In 2007, he was twice removed from the closer role as he struggled with control and blown saves.

For his six seasons with Houston, Lidge compiled a 23-20 record with 123 saves and eye-popping 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings.

During the winter of 2007, new General Manager Ed Wade dealt Lidge to the Phillies for outfielder Michael Bourn and reliever Geoff Geary. Many in Houston thought they were getting rid of damaged goods just in the nick of time but Lidge rebounded in 2008 with a 2-0 record, a 1.95 ERA and converted a perfect 51 of 51 save opportunities while leading Philadelphia to a Worlds Championship.

For 2009, Lidge returned to the shaky form of 2007 and it remains to be seen how his career will evolve.