For the first time in the past few offseasons, the closing pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, Brad Lidge, is ending his season at 100 percent health, which has allowed him to have an extremely rigorous offseason of training.

Lidge has not had productive offseasons for the past few years due to an injury to his throwing elbow. The 2010-2011 offseason is different for Lidge.

Lidge has often been the target of criticism ever since he failed to match the numbers he had in 2008, where he had 41 saves in 41 opportunities, including the offseason. To be honest, after the first half of the season that Lidge had in 2010, it is somewhat justified.

Preceding the 2010 All-Star break, Lidge had a 4.60 ERA with only six saves in nine opportunities. In the 15.2 innings pitched before the break, he allowed 15 hits, eight earned runs and three home runs.

However, after the All-Star break, Lidge’s numbers shot up drastically. In 30 innings pitched following the break, Lidge had 21 saves out of 23 save opportunities. During that course of time, he only allowed seven earned runs and two home runs, both of which were one less than those respective stats for the first half of the season, where he pitched half the number of innings. This allowed Lidge’s ERA for the second half of the season to be as good as 2.10.

It should also be noted that the batting average against Lidge for the first half of the season was .250, whereas it was .192 for the second half of the season. After the conclusion of July through the postseason, Lidge had 19 saves out of 20 opportunities.

Overall for 2010, Lidge had an ERA of 2.96 with 27 saves, 52 strikeouts, 24 walks and a WHIP of 1.23. Obviously, the numbers from the first half of the season drove his overall numbers up.

Lidge, and the Phillies in general, hope that Lidge can replicate the numbers he had for the second half of the 2010 season for the entirety of the 2011 season. His chances of starting strong in 2011 are much greater than they have been in doing so because he is not nursing an injury through the offseason.

Lidge has been training hard this offseason and will be starting spring training (on Monday) in a better situation than he has in the previous few seasons.

The chances he has to produce like he did after the 2010 All-Star break are greater because of his training this offseason being in place of the rehabilitation that he has gone through in the previous years. Lidge will be working hard to perfect his training and performance during spring training, and his chances at perfection have not been this good in quite some time.

Lidge has been throwing regularly and at the rate that he needs to pitch at to be effective. Lidge has not only been healthy, he has also been able to maintain his top-notch ability through the offseason thus far. He has made the proper moves to make sure that he has not lost the effectiveness he had for the second half of last season. This is all paired with his hunger to be the world champion again.

Expect Lidge to be hungry, healthy and performing at the ability level that he performed at from August through October in 2010. With Lidge’s offseason health being 100 percent, and with his participating in a great offseason training program, expect him to improve upon his 2010 season’s numbers and have a season closer to his 2008 season, where he had an ERA of 1.95 with 41 saves.

Lidge will greatly improve upon his 2010 season based on his great offseason health and training, in addition to having the honor of pitching behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, plus the quality setup relief of Ryan Madson.

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