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Lidge settling in as setup man

The Sports Xchange
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He has been a closer for most of his career, but these days, Brad Lidge has been forced to adapt to the role of a setup man.

"These guys have done such a good job in these roles that I'm happy to help them do that," Lidge said. "There are little differences that you have to make along the way, especially coming in (during an inning with men on base). But I have to get used to it and make those adjustments."

After missing the first four months of the season, Lidge is looking to make an impact in the presumed final month of his Phillies career as the eighth-inning man ahead of closer Ryan Madson.

Lidge is 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA in 18 appearances since coming off the disabled list July 27 after recovering from a right posterior rotator cuff strain.

"I'm feeling good right now," Lidge said. "I'm just trying to go out there and get better with each outing. I would like to have a few more 1-2-3 innings. But we're working on that."

Lidge has been posting impressive numbers even with a diminished fastball. According to Fangraphs.com, Lidge has only thrown his fastball 29.1 percent of the time at an average velocity of 88.8 mph. His slider, which he has thrown the other 70.9 percent of the time, has been effective.

"To me, it's more important to be down in the strike zone so that it helps out the slider instead of having that extra velocity and getting the ball higher in the zone," Lidge said.

The Phillies are unlikely to pick up Lidge's $12.5 million option for next season, instead looking to turn to a young stable of bullpen arms coming from the minor league ranks. Still, the closer, who went 48-for-48 in save opportunities in 2008, feels a desire to help his young teammates.

"Anything that Ryan and I can do to help these guys along, we're going to do it," Lidge said.

Lidge got the last two outs of the eighth inning Thursday in the Phillies' 3-1 win over the Marlins in the first game of a doubleheader. He didn't pitch in the nightcap, which Philadelphia won 2-1 in 10 innings on Ryan Howard's walk-off double.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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