By every measure, Ryan Madson had a better 2017 than he did 2016 when he saved 30 games for Oakland. His reward? 28 fewer saves and a traded to Washington at the deadline to remain behind Sean Doolittle in line for saves while also competing with a few other worthy names. Madson, at age 36, had his best season as a pro, even topping his 2010 season which put him on our radars as a power reliever for Philadelphia. He checks off every statistical box you want in a closer: strikeouts (10.2 K/9 last season), low walk rate (1.4 BB/9), low flyball rate (21.2 percent) and mostly split neutral. If you focus on the past three seasons, 2016 looks like the outlier despite the 30 saves. Perhaps Madson does not have the mental chops to close and is better suited for a setup role? Either way, these are skills to be rostered in case new skipper Davey Martinez throws a changeup with the closer job.
First-year Nationals manager Davey Martinez said during the offseason that he intends to deploy Madson as the team's primary eighth-inning man in 2018, Mark Zuckerman of MASNSports.com reports. Considering how poorly the Nationals' bullpen performed before acquiring Sean Doolittle, Madson and Brandon Kintzler in a pair of July trades, it's no surprise that Martinez will follow the model former manager Dusty Baker used in the second half of the 2017 campaign and lean heavily on the three relievers in the late innings. With Doolittle set to reprise his role as closer, Madson will step in as the primary setup man, while Kintzler sees most of his work in the seventh inning. Like Madson, Kintzler possesses prior closing experience, but the former would offer more stability and fantasy upside as an end gamer due to his superior strikeout rate. As such, Madson represents the clear top handcuff for saves in the Washington bullpen in the event the notoriously fragile Doolittle succumbs to an injury at some point.
Madson allowed two runs on three hits in an inning of work but was able to convert the save Sunday against the Phillies. He struck out one. Madson put two men on before allowing a two-run single with two outs in the ninth. He got Rhys Hoskins to ground into a fielder's choice to end the game, earning him his second save of the season. Sean Doolittle has been lights-out as the Nats' closer since his acquisition and should see the vast majority of the save opportunities the rest of the way after taking a breather Sunday.
Madson gave up a hit and struck out two in a scoreless eighth inning Thursday to collect his 20th hold of the season in a win over the Phillies. While Sean Doolittle has seen all the glory in the Nats bullpen as the team's new closer, Madson has been just as valuable since the duo came over from Oakland, posting a 17:1 K:BB over 12 shutout innings while recording three wins and six holds in a Washington uniform. Expect the veteran righty to remain locked into his setup role down the stretch.
Madson (finger) was reinstated from the 10-day DL prior to Friday's game against the Brewers, Mark Zuckerman of MASN Sports reports. As Zuckerman references, it remains unclear whether Madson is actually ready to pitch at this point, or if the club made this move since there is no need for him to stay on the disabled list with expanded rosters. Madson was placed on the 10-day DL on Aug. 17, and as of last week, the Nationals didn't know for certain whether he would be ready to return before the playoffs, so it seems unlikely that he'll be back on the mound any time in the immediate future.
Madson (finger) will meet the Nationals in Milwaukee on Thursday for a reevaluation, Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post reports. There hasn't been any news indicating that Madson has experienced a setback with the sprained finger on his right hand following his placement on the disabled list Aug. 17, so it sounds like he'll just be receiving a routine two-week checkup. If the Nationals determine that Madson has healed as expected, the team could outline a throwing program for the veteran reliever, but as things stand now, it looks like he'll remained sidelined for most of September.