Ryan Madson has never seized the closer role, despite wielding one of the most unhittable pitches in baseball.
If only it was as simple as leveraging one of the game’s best change-ups with high-90s cheese. But stuff, in the words of every reliever, pitching coach and manager, only takes you so far. The mental part of the game is why so few closers last, and why only a handful stay consistent enough to be counted among the elite. The unfortunate results bear out Madson’s inconsistencies balancing on the ninth-inning ledge. Things like command and ability to make first-pitch strikes, ever-present in his traditional set-up role, go missing; location was the chief culprit last night. And unlike closers with a bread-and-butter pitch (Rivera’s cutter, Lidge’s slider, Hoffman’s change-up), the ninth inning becomes a tedious experiment between several pitches, despite the highest swing-and-miss percentage in the league two years ago with his change-up.Notes: It’s a crying shame it had to happen because the day should belong to Kyle Kendrick, who forced the issue with first-pitch strikes and went old school by pounding the sinker. It also ruined an opportunity to discuss some of the excellent hitting by Chase Utley and Placido Polanco.