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Rough Night for Relievers

Brad Lidge made his 14th appearance of the season last night. Coming off a disastrous 2009 season by any measure, Lidge’s 2010 has been pretty flawless. His ERA entering Tuesday was a shiny 3.27, his FIP sat nestled just above at 3.40, and his xFIP was a comfortable 2.65. Sure, he had given up some home runs, but at the end of the day, Lidge pitched as well as he ever had before.

Unfortunately, for fans of the Phillies and Lidge alike, Tuesday night brought back some night terrors. With the Phillies up 6-3 in the bottom of the ninth, Lidge entered and quickly disposed of Ramon Hernandez (on a groundout) and Drew Stubbs (on a strikeout). The Reds’ win expectancy at this point was 0.4%. Suggesting it was highly improbable that the Reds would come back, not to even ponder a victory. Then Brandon Phillips walked on five pitches … 1.4%; then he advanced on defensive indifference .. 1.5%. Orlando Cabrera hit a liner into left placing runners at the corners … 4.2%. And well, you know, Joey Votto came up and did what Joey Votto is wont to do: he homered, tied the game, and gave the Reds a 53.3% shot at winning.

As if that weren’t enough, though, Arthur Rhodes experienced a meltdown of his own versus the brunt of a lacking Phillies’ lineup. Ryan Howard doubled, Jayson Werth walked, Raul Ibanez doubled, and even Ben Francisco and Wilson Valdez got in on that act. Dane Sardinha and Juan Castro too batted in the inning. Yes, that Dane Sardinha.

I’m not willing to figure out the odds, but anytime two relievers with sub-3.5 xFIP compile nearly -1.000 combined WPA, it’s an occasion worth taking note of.