Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ryan Madson 

After talking about Tom Gordon and Alfonso Alfonseca, I thought I’d turn my attention to Ryan Madson, the former golden boy amongst the blogging set who struggled through a difficult campaign in 2006 where he was demoted from starter to the bullpen not once but twice, an event that my carry with it some psychological scarring.

When Ryan Madson began his rookie season in 2004 (yes, he hurled two innings in ’03, but that doesn’t count), he astonished Phillies fans with his sharp pitching. He pitched in 52 games, went 9-3 with one save and an ERA of 2.34. In a season where the Phillies pitching got rocked nearly every day at Citizens Bank Ballpark, Ryan Madson looked like the Phillies sole reliable pitcher:

ERA: 2.34
HR/9: 0.70
BB/9: 2.22
K/9: 6.43
K/BB: 2.89

Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
WHIP – Walks plus hits by innings pitched: (BB + H) / IP = WHIP
ERA – Earned Run Average: (Earned Runs * 9) / IP = ERA
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor Evaluates a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed).
HR/9 – Home Runs allowed per nine innings: (HR * 9) / IP
K/9 – Strikeouts per nine innings: (K * 9) / IP
BB/9 – Walks per nine innings: (BB * 9) / IP

The next season Madson struggled a little more, appearing in 78 games, going 6-5 without a save and seeing his ERA increase to 4.14. A closer look reveals that Ryan turned in a remarkably similar season to the previous one:

ERA: 4.13
HR/9: 1.14
BB/9: 2.59
K/9: 8.17
K/BB: 3.16

Indeed, Ryan Madson’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) ERA had barely nudged up, going from 3.31 in 2004 to 3.67 in 2005. The ’04 Phillies had played great defense behind Madson and the ’05 team had been more average.

When the ’06 campaign rolled around the Phillies had been impressed enough with his performance to attempt to convert him into a starter along with Gavin Floyd. The result was more than disasterous. Ryan made four starts in April and emerged from the month with a 2-1 record that masked an 8.05 ERA. Teams were hitting .375 against Ryan. Pulled from the rotation, Madson was forced to go back in when Gavin Floyd was sent to the minors. Ryan started ten games in June and July and went 4-4, but had a 6.10 ERA! Returned to the bullpen, Ryan had an ERA of 3.00 in August (going 1-1 with two saves), but saw his ERA jump up to 6.89 again in September. Here is sort of the tale of two seasons that Ryan Madson had in 2006:

Starter / Relief
ERA: 6.28 / 4.50
HR/9: 1.49 / 1.02
BB/9: 3.69 / 2.66
K/9: 6.08 / 7.77
K/BB: 1.61 / 2.92
WHIP: 1.78 / 1.47

What to expect from Ryan Madson in 2007? I am not sure. He needs to clean the ’06 campaign from his head and commit himself fully to being the Phillies chief set-up man. Given that I am not convinced that Tom Gordon will turn in a good performance in ’07, the Phillies might need for Ryan to step into the breach and become the Phillies closer until they seek a permanent replacement for Gordon or the high command might just give him the job outright. Ryan has a lot of tools, but the bullpen is where he belongs. That rush of adrenaline, that stress of needing to enter a game and clean up a mess is something that Ryan clearly thrives on compared with starting a game and needing to pace yourself over five, six, seven … even eight innings.

I tend to think Ryan will return to 2004-2005 form this season. I think he’ll pitch well and give the Phillies 75-85 quality innings from the bullpen and appear in as many as 70 or so games. I am looking forward to seeing Ryan show us what he can do.

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Very good stuff. Looking at the top 10 NL league leaders in holds, they average around 23-24 (with Scott Linebrink an amazing 37.) Do you think Madson can rack up 20 holds this season?
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