Tag:Ryan Madson
Posted on: July 27, 2011 5:01 pm

No Beltran, no Pence, but Phillies want relievers

By Danny Knobler 

Yes, the Phillies made an effort for Carlos Beltran, before backing down and allowing him to go to the Giants. Yes, the Phillies talked to the Astros about Hunter Pence, although it appears now that nothing will happen, and the Astros will look to deal Pence in the winter, instead.

And as usual, the Phillies' biggest acquisition this month might well be a pitcher.

The Phillies remain among the teams most interested in Padres relievers Heath Bell and Mike Adams, although like others they continue to complain about the high prices. The Phils have looked at the Orioles and other teams, as well, in hopes of finding bullpen help.

I know, the Phillies bullpen has been among the most successful in the game this year. Their three blown saves are the fewest in the majors, and only one of the three came in the ninth inning. And after playing much of the year with three closers (Brad LidgeRyan Madson and Jose Contreras) on the disabled list, the Phillies now have Madson and Lidge back on the active roster.

Fine. But fast-forward to October, because the Phillies are all about October.

Do you feel comfortable with Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo pitching late in games in the playoffs? Are you sure about Madson as your playoff closer? Will Lidge be healthy and strong enough to help?

People who talk to the Phillies say they're asking all of those questions themselves, and that the answer can be seen in their efforts on the trade market.

The Phillies will likely still look to acquire a right-handed hitter, but it may well be more of a platoon bat off the bench. That could change, obviously, depending on who is available, and it would be interesting to see if the Phillies went after Carlos Quentin, if the White Sox really make him available.

The Phillies didn't get Beltran, and they almost certainly won't get Pence. Don't be surprised if they end up with a reliever.

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Posted on: July 20, 2011 3:38 pm
Edited on: July 20, 2011 3:59 pm

Lidge looking for Friday return

By Matt Snyder

Phillies (former?) closer Brad Lidge has yet to pitch in the majors this season, as he's battled arm injuries. He feels he's ready to re-join Philly, however, after working a perfect inning for Class-A Lakewood. It was Lidge's eighth rehab outing, in which he's pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed four runs. His velocity reportedly isn't where it's been in the past, however, Lidge still believes he's ready.

"Everything feels good, finally,'' Lidge said (Philly.com). "My slider feels great right now. As I always say, that's a real important pitch for me. That's normally how I get guys out.''

He also expressed that he was hopeful that he would join the Phillies Friday.

Lidge, 34, had 27 saves with a 2.96 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season for the Phillies. He was a perfect 41-for-41 in saves in 2008 before a disastrous 2009 season.

Lidge will have to contend with Ryan Madson and Antonio Bastardo for save chances, but if all three are pitching up to their respective abilities and remain healthy, there's potential for a dominant back-end of the bullpen. And that's on a team with the best starting rotation in baseball.

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Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: July 15, 2011 10:12 am

Polanco to DL, Madson activated

By Matt Snyder

Third baseman Placido Polanco has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with lower back inflammation, retroactive to July 5, the Phillies announced Friday. As a corresponding move, the Phillies activated closer Ryan Madson.

Polanco, 35, is hitting .274 with 34 runs scored and a .331 OBP. He was voted in as the NL starter at third base in the All-Star Game, but was unable to play because of his injury.

Madson has been sidelined since June 18 with a hand contusion. He has 15 saves with a 2.03 ERA.

Also, Vance Worley was recalled from Triple-A and will start Friday night against he Mets. The young pitcher is 4-1 with a 2.20 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in 10 appearances, including eight starts.

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Posted on: June 29, 2011 9:47 am
Edited on: June 29, 2011 9:59 am

Pepper: Beltran OK with trade

By C. Trent Rosecrans

BASEBALL TODAY: NESN.com's Tony Lee joins Lauren Shehadi to talk about tonight's Red Sox-Phillies matchup, as well as the Brewers' struggles in the Bronx and the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates.

Carlos Beltran told the New York Post he would waive his no-trade rights if the Mets wanted to move him, but it would have to be the right situation.

"The team is always going to do what is best for the team, and as a player you have to make decision if the trade makes sense or not," Beltran told the Post.

The Mets are 40-39, but 9 1/2 games behind the Phillies and five games behind the Braves in the National League East. They're also five games back in the wild card, trailing Atlanta, Arizona, St. Louis and Pittsburgh and tied with Cincinnati.

Beltran is in the final season of his contract, and the Mets have already agreed not to offer him arbitration, which means neither the Mets nor any other team that acquires him for the stretch run will get free-agent compensation if Beltran signs elsewhere after the season.

The 34-year-old is hitting .281/.373/.489 with 11 home runs and 53 RBI this season. While he has an injury history, when healthy, he's still one of baseball's premier players.

SETBACK FOR JOHNSON: Bad news for the Marlins: Right-hander Josh Johnson will have his shoulder examined by Dr. James Andrews today. Johnson reported stiffness in his shoulder after throwing a bullpen Friday. Johnson is in the second year of a four-year, $39 million contract. [Miami Herald]

BUCHHOLZ DELAYED: Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz is unlikely to make his July 4 start against the Blue Jays. Buchholz is eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday, but he may need more time to recover from his lower back strain. [Boston Globe]

BASTARDO TO CLOSE: With yet another Phillies closer on the disabled list, lefty Antonio Bastardo will get the first shot at closing, manager Charlie Manuel said. Right-hander Michael Stutes could get the call if a particularly tough right-handed lineup is scheduled for the ninth. Ryan Madson went on the DL with a bruised right hand. [MLB.com]

SOX STANDING PAT?: MLB.com's Peter Gammons tweets the Red Sox can't add payroll this season. It looks as if they'll have to make due with that paltry $160 million payroll. How can they compete?

GENTLEMAN'S NAME: Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan explains his "gentleman's name" -- Tony Plush, also known as T-Plush, of course. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]

BOURJOS BLOOMING: An adjustment to his stance and swing has paid off for Angels center-fielder Peter Bourjos, who is hitting .328 in June with 14 strikeouts after hitting just .176 with 31 strikeouts in May. [Orange County Register]

TIME TO SIGN GORDON: Is it time for the Royals to lock up Alex Gordon? The one-time savior of the franchise has served his time as a bust before busting out this season, hitting .294/.363/.481 so far in 2011. [Kansas City Star]

OGANDO OPTION: The Rangers could option Alexi Ogando to Triple-A until after the All-Star break, but just to get rest. After starting the season 7-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his first 12 starts, the former reliever has gone 0-3 with a 9.31 ERA in his last three starts. The Rangers could make a move if Ogando doesn't pitch well Friday against the Marlins. [MLB.com]

Rockies WANT 2B HELP: The Rockies are targeting the Dodgers' Jamey Carroll and other second basemen, but probably won't be able to afford the price of another starter. The team could also look at Orlando Cabrera if the Indians fall out of the race next month. Both Jonathan Herrera and Chris Nelson are slumping for the Rockies. [Denver Post]

MORE REIMOLD: Orioles manager Buck Showalter wants to use Nolan Reimold more. Maybe he should talk to the manager and make that happen. [MLB.com]

BULLPEN BUBBLES: Who better to judge a bubblegum taste-test than relievers? That's at least what the Washingtonian thought. The winners were Bubble Yum and Dubble Bubble. The video, though, is the key.

WHO DOESN'T LIKE NICKELBACK AND CREED?: Yeah, we've all thought it and said it to our buddies, but Riley Breckenridge, drummer for the band Thrice, wrote it for OC Weekly -- MLB players have terrible taste in music.

ANOTHER CALL FOR REPLAY: Good column by Gil LeBreton of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram calling for replay in baseball. I agree with LeBreton that umpiring hasn't suddenly gotten worse; it's that replay has gotten better with HD and every game televised, so we see the mistakes more.

FRANKRUPT: So those killjoys at MLB.com won't let you order a Chapter 11 Dodgers jersey, well, you can still get these cool "Frankrupt" T-shirts.

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Posted on: June 10, 2011 1:14 am
Edited on: June 10, 2011 1:19 am

3 Up, 3 Down: Dunn goes deep

By Matt Snyder

Adam Dunn, White Sox. He's still on pace to have the worst season of his career by a huge margin, but Dunn's gotta be pretty happy with his performance Thursday night. After two games off, he returned to the lineup and slugged his sixth home run of the season -- his first since May 24.

Alex Avila, Tigers. Avila tripled twice in the Tigers' victory. He's a catcher, as we know, so a two-triple game has to be a rarity, right? According to Baseball-Reference.com, this was the 75th time a catcher has hit two triples since 1919. It was the 18th time in the past 40 years. The 24 year old, who was really only made the starter due to his defense, is now hitting .297 with nine homers, 33 RBI, 13 doubles and three triples. He's got a real shot to play in the All-Star Game.

Johnny Cueto, Reds. Cueto stifled the Giants Thursday night in his best start of the season. He worked seven shutout innings, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out eight and picking up the win. It was the first scoreless appearance by a Reds starter since Homer Bailey's May 10 outing. The start also marked the sixth quality start in seven tries for Cueto, who lowered his ERA to 1.93 and could really be emerging as the ace of the Reds' deep staff. The win kept the Reds five games out in the NL Central.

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers. If the Dodgers score seven runs for their young ace -- especially against the recently-punchless Rockies -- it should be an easy victory. Instead, Kershaw just didn't have it Thursday night in the thin air of Coors Field. He gave up seven hits, three walks and six earned runs in six innings.

Trevor Cahill, A's. The manager change didn't help in Game 1 of the Bob Melvin era for Oakland. The A's were worked over by the White Sox, 9-4, and ace Trevor Cahill was beaten down in less than three innings of work. Cahill was only able to get through 2 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits, three walks and six earned runs. He's now 0-4 with a 5.35 ERA in his last six starts -- and the A's are 0-6 in those starts. You're supposed to feel confident in a win with your ace on the hill. That's not happening. Hey, at least Cahill's healthy, though, unlike about half the Oakland pitchers who have been on the 40-man roster this year.

Ryan Madson/Placido Polanco, Phillies. There will be no repeat of Brad Lidge's 2008 season in Philly (when he saved 41 games without blowing a single chance). Ryan Madson entered the game Thursday night against the Cubs having converted all 14 of his save opportunities, but a Geovany Soto home run tied it. Madson almost took the loss, as Tyler Colvin followed with what was initially ruled a home run. The umpires ruled fan interference and a ground-rule double after video review, and Madson got out of the inning with a tie game. Then, in the top of the 11th, Placido Polanco committed a throwing error with two outs that allowed the Cubs to plate the go-ahead run. The Phillies then went down in the bottom half of the inning and lost a game they should have won.

BONUS UP AND DOWN: Joakim Soria returned to his customary role as the Royals closer and picked up the save. So that's good. It's just that he didn't look in control at all. He allowed back-to-back singles with one out and then walked the bases loaded with two outs before getting Corey Patterson to pop up and end the game. Soria faced six hitters and threw at least two balls to four of them. Both singles were hit pretty hard, too. But, again, he did lock down the save and didn't allow a run.

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Posted on: May 25, 2011 1:56 am

3 Up, 3 Down: The Unusual Suspects

By Matt Snyder

On a night that featured marquee pitching names like Justin Verlander, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, CC Sabathia, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, we've got a 3 Up that features ... none of them.

Nick Blackburn, Twins. As noted in On Deck, the Twins were in danger of tying a franchise record in consecutive home losses -- matching a team that wasn't even in Minnesota or called the Twins. Against the red-hot Mariners (which just sounds weird, but they had won six in a row), Blackburn went out and spun a complete-game gem. He gave up seven hits and two earned runs while striking out six. He needed 127 pitches, but most importantly finished the game himself -- a huge deal with the way the back-end of the bullpen has been unreliable this season. This was a case of a pitcher going out and taking matters into his own hands to stop a losing streak.

Guillermo Moscoso, A's. So, let's see ... one of baseball's elite pitchers vs. a pretty terrible offense ... and on the other side? A man making his first big-league start who had a 4.02 minor-league ERA prior to Tuesday. Who wins? This is why baseball is awesome. Of course Moscoso held the Angels scoreless on just three hits in six innings of work while Dan Haren coughed up five earned runs in seven innings against the American League's 13th-ranked offense.

Ricky Nolasco, Marlins. Obviously, Nolasco is a bit more established than the two hurlers listed above, but his outing in these circumstances was very solid. The Marlins had lost three of their last five and have seen ace Josh Johnson hit the disabled list. They were facing the defending world champs, who had recently regained their mojo in a five-game winning streak and were running out their formidable No. 2 starter in Cain. Also, while Nolasco has been good, he hasn't been great this season. Tuesday night, however, Nolasco was great for eight innings. He took a five-hit shutout into the ninth inning. Sure, things unraveled a bit in the ninth and Leo Nunez was needed for the save, but Nolasco still let the rest of the bullpen rest and put forth a big effort for the Marlins. They also again moved to within a game of first place in the NL East.

The New York Mets. So the players spent the entire day answering questions in Wrigley Field's cramped locker room about their loose-lipped owner. So what? Professional players wouldn't allow that to effect performance, right? Tuesday night, the Mets did their best to disprove that. They lost 11-1 to a Cubs team that has had trouble scoring runs. Jonathon Niese gave up six runs, but only two were earned thanks to an embarrassing display by Ruben Tejada, Ronny Paulino and company in the second inning. Still, Mets' pitchers in all allowed 13 hits and six earned runs. Meanwhile, the offense was stymied for seven innings by a pitcher (Ryan Dempster) who entered the game with a 6.91 ERA in 56 innings. Jason Bay left the game with an injury, too. The Mets have now lost three in a row after hitting .500 and look closer than ever to a firesale. Between the injuries and the ownership situation, it's hard to not feel sorry for Mets fans.

Nationals' bullpen. Monday night, the Nationals' bullpen let the game get away from itself, allowing four runs in three innings. Tuesday, it blew the game, again allowing four runs in three innings. This time around it was worse, of course, because the Nats actually had a lead before the implosion. They've now lost four in a row and six of seven.

Ryan Madson, Phillies. Everyone has bad nights. Just in case we'd forgotten, Madson went out and proved it Tuesday night. The right-hander entered the game with nine saves, two wins, a 0.47 ERA, 23 strikeouts in 19 innings and about as few blemishes as you could possibly have at this point in the season. Tuesday night he was tagged with three earned runs and the loss. The funny thing was, he gave up two infield hits and an intentional walk to load the bases. You can't much blame a pitcher for that. But the big blow -- a rocket of a double by Jay Bruce -- was certainly Madson's fault. And though Bruce entered the game scorching hot, he was 0-4 with three strikeouts before the at-bat Tuesday. So we'll say this outing by Madson was a tad bit understandable, but not good.

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Posted on: May 21, 2011 2:05 pm

Ryan Madson emerging as dominating closer


By Evan Brunell

Before being pressed into emergency closer duty when both Brad Lidge and Lidge's replacement in Jose Conteras went down, the closer's role was Madson's boogeyman.

From 2004-10, a span of seven seasons, Madson had an eye-popping 24 blown saves against just 20 saves, highlighted by his 0-for-7 turn in '04 and being highlighted the last two seasons with converting just 15 of 26 chances. Madson's struggles have long been odd, as his ERA over the same timespan is 3.73, dropping to 3.01 from 2007-10 and emerging as one of the game's best setup men.

Now, the 30-year-old can add vaunted closer to his resume, as he's finally dispelled the boogeyman by converting all eight save opportunities with a paltry 0.50 ERA over 18 innings on the season. His strikeout rate has spiked to a career-high and he's punched out 23 batters while walking just seven. Brad Lidge, who is hoping to return to the team in three weeks, already knows he won't replace Madson as closer. Given Lidge has yet to pitch this season, it wouldn't make sense to throw him right back in the fire as a closer. Madson's production has also eased the load on Lidge.

“Ryan’s done an incredible job, and he’s closing games as good as anybody in baseball,” Lidge said. “I would expect whatever Charlie thinks is best for the team is what he’s going to do. I’m just going to be happy to be back in the big leagues for a while. Whatever pans out is what pans out.”

Even Jose Contreras, Lidge's replacement as closer before hitting the DL, may return to his setup role once he's ready. Contreras could be activated for Sunday or Monday's game provided his rehab outing with Double-A Reading goes well Saturday night. That's how impressive Madson has been.

“When I look at him that he’s been throwing hard, but this is the best command I’ve ever seen him have of his change-up,” manager Charlie Manuel told the Wilmington News Journal. “His change-up, to me, it’s improved. And the location with it, he’s been that good.”

Madson's changeup has been a big reason for his success to date, throwing it about 30 percent of the time -- and forcing a swing-and-miss on one out of every three changeups ever since he made a mechanical tweak in mid-2010. That's a massive number. For comparison, Mariano Rivera's cutter gets a swing and a miss 8.1 percent of the time last season. Craig Kimbrel's change? 20.8 percent. Jonathan Papelbon's splitter comes close, but it's still no cigar, inducing 28 percent swing-and-misses.

The reason for the added success, Madson says, is a flaw with his pitching motion that Lidge noticed last season. When delivering a fastball, Madson's arm angle was further out from his head which allowed batters to pick up that it was a fastball easier. Given the effectiveness of a change wholly rests on being able to deceptively deliver it as a fastball, Madson wasn't getting the most out of his change.

Now he is. And now, Manuel doesn't seem interested in changing roles once Contereas and Lidge return. Even if Madson eventually transitions back to a setup role by season's end, he could have just made himself millions of dollars.

An impending free agent, Madson could be a hot name to become a closer for another team -- and with Scott Boras as his agent, you can bet Madson will hit free agency. Philadelphia hopes not, with GM Ruben Amaro saying that he wouldn't rule out trying to extend Madson in-season. That's a no-brainer, as Amaro should be doing everything he can right now to hang onto Madson, who could close for Philly for quite some time. Both Conteras and Lidge will be free agents as well.

Lidge, for his part, isn't sure what to expect when he returns after being diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation in spring training. He's been out so long and hasn't even pitched in a game situation yet. He's tossing a second bullpen session Saturday before heading out to extended spring training, then a rehab assignment. That puts his return to the Phillies sometime in mid-June. Despite that, Lidge couldn't be more pleased with how things are going.

“I’m already throwing harder than at any point this spring,” Lidge said. “I wasn’t really throwing hard at all this spring -- mid to upper 80s, I guess. I can already tell I’m throwing harder than that, so that’s very encouraging. Beyond that, I know I’ve got a few outings to get the rest back on, but it’s encouraging to know I’m past where I was in spring training.”

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Posted on: April 25, 2011 5:01 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 5:06 pm

On Deck: Weaver vs. Gonzalez

Gio Gonzalez Jared Weaver

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Today we're starting another daily feature at Eye on Baseball, On Deck will bring you three of the things you need to know for each night's game, from streaks to showdowns to pennant battles and beyond, we'll highlight three games or players each night, letting you know what to watch for in the day's slate of games.

Best matchup -- Oakland's Gio Gonzalez vs. Anaheim's Jered Weaver. I'm not a big believer in the East Coast bias myth, but will say that if this were a Yankees-Red Sox matchup, you'd already be sick of hearing about these two. Gonzalez is coming off his first loss of the season, a 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Red Sox, but is still 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA. Weaver may be the American League's best starter, at least in April, leading the league in ERA (1.23) and with five wins. The game doesn't start until 10:05 p.m. ET, but it's worth staying up late to watch -- and with these two on the hill, even those on the East Coast won't have to stay up too far after bedtime. A's at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET

Streaking -- Andre Ethier enters tonight's game against the Marlins as the owner of a 21-game hitting streak. It's the longest April hitting streak in Dodgers history, but still 10 games behind the team's best hitting streak. Willie Davis hit in 31 straight games in 1969, breaking the previous record of 29 held by Zack Wheat, set in 1916. Dodgers at Marlins, 7:10 p.m. ET

Closer watch -- The Phillies have a new closer in Ryan Madson after Jose Contreras went on the disabled list on Sunday. Contreras was already filling in for the injured Brad Lidge, but Madson has been the team's closer-in-waiting for more than a year now and will get yet another shot at showing Philadelphia he can do the job full-time. Tonight may not be his best shot, with Cliff Lee (2-1, 3.91) on the mound for the Phillies and Ian Kennedy (2-1, 5.64) starting for Arizona, there may not be much pressure -- nevermind a save situation -- in the ninth inning at Chase Field tonight. Phillies at Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET

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