Washington Nationals: A closer look at Ryan Madson
By Ron Juckett
As the Washington Nationals keep an eye on reliever Ryan Madson, what role could he fill and what will the Oakland Athletics want?
The Washington Nationals are in search of bullpen help. As the trade deadline looms, either they grab a closer or a strong setup guy to pair with Koda Glover. Is Ryan Madson of the Oakland Athletics the answer?
He ticks most of the good boxes.
Madson is under team control next year. He has experience as a closer. And, he is effective as a closer or eighth-inning pitcher. Since it is unclear exactly what the Nats need, he matches both expected roles.
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Now the bad news.
Oakland will trade him to the best package of prospects they can score. Washington carries little leverage. If the Chicago White Sox go for the American League Central title instead of selling, Madson’s price increases as David Robertson stays put.
The big question of mortgaging the future, moving a Victor Robles or a Juan Soto to win now looms large. Andrew Stevenson, a Starbucks gift card and dead weight from Triple-A Syracuse will not do the job.
Tommy John surgery and a difficult rehab cost Madson three full seasons in the big leagues. After signing with the Kansas City Royals before the start of their 2015 World Series season, he became a better pitcher.
Moving to Oakland in 2016, Madson’s numbers are impressive. Last year, he notched 30 saves with an ERA of 3.62. Moved back into a setup role this year, the ERA dropped to 2.63 as his WHIP fell from 1.284 to 0.988.
For those you pulling for Madson to be the closer for the Nats, there are worrying signs. With the Royals, his WHIP was 0.963 in 68 games and 63.1 innings. His 2.0 BB/9 and 6.7 H/9 helped Kansas City repeat as AL champions. As the closer last year, he jumped to an 8.8 H/9 and 2.8 BB/9.
Although Madson won two games during the Royals playoff run, he was not effective against the Houston Astros in the AL Divisional Series or the AL Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays. In the World Series, he held the New York Mets to three runners in three innings.
He mixes a sinker, fastball, curve and changeup. But, he has converted one of four save chances along with a loss to the Nats on their recent visit.
Madson is a good option if Glover is the closer. Still, the Nats better hope Glover stays healthy and Oakland’s expectations on a trade are realistic. He is a band-aid, but not a magical one.