Lidge becoming a postseason fixture

Lidge becoming a postseason fixture

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies closer Brad Lidge knows how lucky he is.

Lidge has pitched parts of nine seasons in the Major Leagues, and his teams have played into the postseason in five of them. Only nine pitchers in Major League history have made more postseason relief appearances than Lidge's 35, most of them Yankees or Braves.

Only one of those relievers is active -- the Yankees' Mariano Rivera -- and Rivera is the only man in history with more saves than Lidge (42 to 18). Lidge's 59 postseason strikeouts rank third among relievers to Rivera's 109 and Jeff Nelson's 62. Lidge's 2.34 ERA is 11th best among relievers who have worked at least 25 postseason innings.

He knows the feeling of throwing the final pitch of a World Series and throwing his arms in the air in celebration. Lidge has pitched in three World Series, winning it all with the Phillies in 2008.

For all of his ups and downs -- and Phillies fans are certainly familiar with both -- the man has quite a postseason resume.

Busy Brad
Most postseason games by a reliever
Player W L SV ERA G
Mariano Rivera 8 1 42 0.71 93
Jeff Nelson 2 3 0 2.65 55
Mike Stanton 5 2 1 2.10 53
Mike Timlin 0 3 1 4.26 46
Mark Wohlers 1 2 9 2.35 39
Paul Assenmacher 2 0 0 4.05 36
Brad Lidge 2 4 18 2.34 35
Alan Embree 1 0 0 1.66 31
Mike Jackson 1 2 4 4.71 31
Julian Tavarez 2 4 0 3.52 31
Rollie Fingers 4 4 9 2.35 30
Rick Honeycutt 3 0 1 6.93 30

"I do feel very blessed," Lidge said. "It makes you realize how fortunate and blessed you've been when you see other guys that have played as long as [Phillies teammate Mike] Sweeney who haven't got to the postseason. Other guys too, Brian Schneider and Roy Halladay, they've all been playing for 10 years or more and haven't had a chance."

Sweeney played parts of 15 Major League seasons and made five All-Star teams before finally reaching the playoffs this year with the Phillies. Schneider played 10 years with the Expos/Nationals and Mets before breaking through this year. Halladay pitched 12 seasons with the Blue Jays, made six All-Star teams and won an American League Cy Young Award before finally tasting October baseball.

Phillies hitting coach Greg Gross knows the feeling. He played parts of seven Major League seasons on some middling Astros, Cubs and Phillies teams before the Phils broke through in 1980 and won the World Series. Gross then played in the postseason in three of the next four years.

"If you talk to Rivera with the Yankees, he would say the same thing -- when they became what they are, they were playing for good teams," Gross said. "Lidge caught the Astros just as they were taking off. I had a run from '79-'83 where we were in contention every year, and it was fun. When you have a chance to get to where we are now [two wins from the World Series], that's even more fun."

Lidge didn't have to wait nearly as long as his team's hitting coach. He made his first six Major League appearances for the Astros in 2002, pitched his first full Major League season in '03 and rode all the way to a Game 7 of the NLCS in '04. His teams have made it to the playoffs in five of the past seven years.

"It makes you realize how lucky you are to be with really good teams during your career," Lidge said. "You feel like hopefully you've had something to do with that."

Lidge rebounded from a miserable 2009 season to post a 2.96 ERA and 27 saves in 2010. He notched his second save of this postseason in Thursday's Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, retiring all three hitters he faced on 10 pitches.

Lidge struck out Travis Ishikawa to end the game, and the NLCS was headed back to Philadelphia.

"We don't care how we do it right now," Lidge said. "We just have to make sure that every single pitch, every at-bat has everything we have behind it. I think we feel good about our ability to do that once we get back to Philadelphia."

He feels lucky to get the chance.

"I have been in three World Series, got to win one of them, and ... when you've come this far and you've worked so hard to get this far, you just [enjoy it]," he said. "I mean, only one team's going to win it all, but you can't believe it when it's not you. We don't want to think that far. We want to make sure we're that last team standing this year.

"This is such a great team with such incredible pitching that we need to make sure we do it. That's what it comes down to right now. We're not thinking about the other side of this thing. We're just thinking about making sure we get it done.

"But I'm definitely very aware of how fleeting these chances can be and how lucky you have to be just to get to here. We've had a great season, but we've got a little more ways to go."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.