Ryan Madson’s season was cut short July 29 when the iron-man reliever blew out his shoulder after seasons of abuse. The 27-year-old will look to reclaim the seventh inning.
Injuries happen anytime, but with Madson, one could see it coming. Considering the over-the-top delivery, the gradual wear and the fact that he had been heavily taxed immediately after his trip to the DL, a blowout was inevitable. Madson told reporters his shoulder had been bothering him a couple of days before the injury, but thought he could pitch through it. Although he felt a tear, the injury was diagnosed as shoulder soreness. If the Phillies had advanced to the NLCS, Mad Dog was expected to be available.
Looking back through the archives, I forgot about the Jayson Stark tidbit, reported the night after Madson’s injury, that said the Phillies had been trying to trade Madson. That's probably out of the question now. He’s eligible for his second arbitration and the time to trade him would have been earlier in the fall. Plus, they’re not in a position to deal out bullpen.
When things go badly for Madson, he suffers from equal parts bad command and limited repertoire (his lack of a third pitch hurts him more as a starter). I didn’t like what I saw from Madson early in '07 when he, along with the rest of the bullpen, blew several games. It might have been a case where the Phillies had the wrong man for the job.
His season was largely considered a disappointment, but his numbers actually compare favorably with previous seasons, including 2005. In 56 innings, he finished with a 3.05 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 43/23 K/BB ratio, including a very solid July before the injury. His total Win Shares actually stack up well with guys like Rudy Seanez, Matt Herges and Doug Brocail. I’ve always considered Madson to be an unlucky pitcher and I remember a couple games when he was burned on good pitches. Nevertheless, he's been around the block and experienced hitters know what to expect.
Madson is at his best when he’s assigned a clean seventh inning role. Mixing him into the eighth and ninth iframes, and fiddling with left/right matchups, is a little sloppy. With a rotation half-filled with six-inning pitchers, the seventh inning is a critical spot for Madson and the Phils. A healthy Mad Dog would go a long way in setting an early groove.