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Hey, look at that: Ryan Madson thriving as the Phillies’ closer

May 19, 2011, 11:19 AM EDT

ryan-madson-phillies-nlcs Getty Images

Last month when Jose Contreras joined Brad Lidge on the disabled list I wrote that it may actually be a semi-positive thing for the Phillies because the injuries gave Ryan Madson a chance to prove that he can be a standout closer.

Far too many Phillies fans had convinced themselves that Madson couldn’t possibly get the job done in the ninth inning because he’s struggled in a few brief closing stints in previous seasons, but my point was simple: Madson has been one of the best, most underrated setup men in baseball since 2007 and there’s nothing magical about the ninth inning.

Here’s a sample of some comments left here at the time:

- God I hate when the stat geeks pontificate about the save stat being meaningless, even when they have the proof right in front of their eyes. I mean, isn’t that what you guys are always spouting to the world … don’t believe what you see, believe the stats??? So if Madson blows an early save or two, or three or however many, that wouldn’t be enough to prove to you guys that he isn’t closer material??? I mean, you boys can’t have your cake and eat it too.

- If Madson is as good as you say he is, then he should not be a different pitcher when he closes. Yet he is. Why? Maybe, and I know, this is just an insane thought, but maybe, just maybe, those last three outs are a little more difficult to get than you stat geeks think?

- Madson, on the other hand, wears his emotions on his sleeve and seems to be affected by the moment. I think he’s hard on himself and seems to lose a little confidence when he gets into some jams, more so in the 9th than when he does in the 8th.

- Have to disagree with you Aaron, I think it does take a special breed of pitcher. He has to forget yesterday and handle the increased pressure. Up to now Madson has not been able to do that.

There’s more where those came from, but you get the idea.

Closing is a role, not a skill. Getting hitters out is a skill and Madson is very good at it, thus when given an extended chance to get established he’s very good at pitching the ninth inning with a lead of 1-3 runs. After closing out last night’s 2-1 win by striking out the side in the ninth inning Madson is 7-for-7 converting save opportunities with a 0.53 ERA, .167 opponents’ batting average, and 22 strikeouts in 17 innings.

  1. seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    only fitting that Fiorentino wrote two of those comments

  2. Maxa - May 19, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    You give these goons too much credit by reproducing their comments here.

    • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 11:34 AM

      Goons? I take it you’re not a fan of Philly, idiot!!! The comments he posted above are not outlandish in regards to Madson. What did you find offense to above?

      • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        “idiot!!!” You sound like Napoleon Dynomite.

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 12:42 PM

        b7p19,

        And you sound like “go eat a bag of d**ks.”

    • cur68 - May 19, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      Hey ‘bicepts; is that really you? You seem to have gone back to your original spelling of your handle. FTR: I approve. If it’s not the original ‘bicepts, then you’re doing damn fine work as an impostor. Indistinguishable from the original as far as I can tell. Keep it up.

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        Yeah, it’s me. I screwed up my login this morning and typed in the old one by mistake. Both are me. Next time I login, I will try and remember the one without the (t).

        I should have picked a better name from the beginning, like billybob or something like that.

      • cur68 - May 19, 2011 at 12:00 PM

        Dude! Hell no! Stick with this handle. It’s like the original you. Soon as I saw it I was like transported back to that golden age of 2 weeks ago when we first made your acquaintance.

        Ahhh 2 weeks ago…a magical age…we were younger then, more full of hope and optimism and didn’t have the wretched flu…

        Any how; I say keep this handle. It’s little quirky things like this that make us all unique here on HBT. I realize some will poke fun at you for the spelling but these are the same people who routinely post misspelled and malapropped comments too. We’re all just as likely and just as guilty to screw up something ridiculously.

        After all boyo, you gotta be you…

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 12:05 PM

        Alright, I will keep the original. Regardless, people will still find a reason to bust my stones.

      • cur68 - May 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM

        Everybody gets their stones busted here buddy. If they didn’t insult you, question your parentage and your taste in desert then they’re not interested in you. The trick is not to take it seriously or stoop to petty name calling (<- a hint there for you).

        Anyhow, I think of you as our own version of Eric Cartman. Like Cartman you have your little signature catch-phrase and everything. That bag of d*cks schtick you do is friggin hilarious.

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 12:21 PM

        Cur68,

        Check this skit out below. Somebody tweeted this to me a few minutes ago. Never saw it before. Hilarious:

      • cur68 - May 19, 2011 at 12:38 PM

        God help me I laughed and laughed and laughed…Chris Farley IS John Kruk! And was that Mike Myers as Nails? Jesus I’m going to hurt myself…

        thanks ‘bicepts; you da man!

  3. cooptroop08 - May 19, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    Typical Aaron Gleeman article, always linking up previous posts to show us he was right about something.

    • Jeremiah Graves - May 19, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      Given all of the shit that bloggers take for being “geeks in their mother’s basements” and all that jazz from the same people who–despite bashing them on a daily basis–still expect ‘em to churn out content nonstop (that they can read and then insult)…I think Aaron and everyone who puts up with that is allowed to toot their own horn once in awhile.

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 12:26 PM

        You win the prize of the day as being the most truthful commenter of the day.

        Reading and then insulting….my joys in life.

  4. Jonny 5 - May 19, 2011 at 11:32 AM

    There is more pressure in the ninth, it’s all in how it’s handled. He takes walks off the mound now, adjusts his cap and stuff to calm down. He was just saying last night that the “ninth is tougher, guys swing more”, something to that effect. Although I never thought Madson couldn’t handle the role I did think Jose C. was probably a better choice to close since he seems to have ice in his veins. Madson is just fine….. Now Boras will demand a kings ransom from the phills to keep him. Anyone need a Brad Lidge?? Anyone??

    • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      Another thing too was that before Contreras was hurt, he was doing OK closing. They did not want to move Madson from the 8th at the time because Madson was locked in for so long with that role and they felt the need to leave the strength of the bullpen in his familiar spot.

      • Jonny 5 - May 19, 2011 at 11:41 AM

        Yeah, it was quite shocking for most of us I think to see both replacements do an awesome job. Maybe we’re just used to Lidge? I feel strangely calm now that there is no Lidge in the 9th. I like the guy, he’s done good things for Philly, but he always has made me nervous.

      • seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 12:05 PM

        so are you saying that last night you WEREN’T nervous after seth smith hit that double and was facing 3-4-5 hitters. Then with the winning run on first you weren’t nervous facing a lefty. sorry i don’t buy that

      • Jonny 5 - May 19, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        Yeah, I got a little nervous I guess. But if Brad Lidge was on the mound last I would have much more nervous. That was my point. Brad has me on the edge of my seat every single time he comes out. It probably doesn’t help when a crazy “a brick wall would have trouble blocking me” slider in the dirt are one of his two pitches he uses. Madson has more to work with and does.

  5. seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    fitting that 2 of those comment came from Fiorentino

  6. bigxrob - May 19, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    If the players believe it’s different and approach it differently, than for them, the ninth is different from the eighth.

  7. professor59 - May 19, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    I don’t think there was anything wrong with those old opinions. It was just a fact that until a few weeks ago, Madsen’s 8th inning ERA was 1.50 and his 9th inning ERA was 4.50. For his career.
    But he may have been psyching himself up lately. In last night’s postgame interview, he said that it can be easier to pitch the 9th than the 8th because the batters have more pressure on them to deliver in the 9th. In the 8th, they still feel like they’ll have another chance later. So he can get them to chase pitches and get them out.
    If that’s what he has to tell himself to be a good closer, then I’m all for it. You know, 90% of this game is half mental.

  8. wlschneider09 - May 19, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    Aaron, you’re a Twins fan, you must remember the Latroy Hawkins experiment.

    Latroy was a decent setup guy, good but not great stuff, average velocity with good movement. By the year 2000 he had evolved into a reliable late inning option, and when the closer role was open TK gave him a shot. He did just fine, picking up 14 saves without a blown save. ERA 3.39, WHIP 1.33.

    When 2001 rolled around, Latroy was the de facto closer, but he blew a handful of saves in some key games, and he started to over throw as a result. He tried to throw every pitch through the catcher, and his pitches lost their movement, and he was horrible (28 saves, 9 blown saves). ERA 5.91, WHIP 1.91.

    2002, not surprisingly Latroy is removed from the closer role, back to setup, spends the next two years as a very reliable 8th inning option. ERA 1.86 and 2.03, WHIP 1.09 and 1.05.

    2004, Latroy heads to the Cubs and ends up closing. He doesn’t implode like 2001, but struggles as a closer (25 saves and 9 blown saves) and excels as a setup guy. His ERA is 2.63 and his WHIP is 1.05, but a breakdown shows that he pitched better in the 8th than the ninth. His only other opportunity to close comes with Houston in 2009, and then he does just fine again.

    Same guy, same stuff. Great as a setup guy, mixed results (at best) as a closer. It’s all in his head. I guess the point I want to make is that stats are the most reliable indicator of future success in baseball, but because baseball players are human beings stats are not always the total story. Getting hitters out is a skill, measurable by stats, but the increased pressure some pitchers may feel as they move into a closing role can never be predicted by stats. That said, the problem can be overcome, just as Madson is doing now.

    • Jonny 5 - May 19, 2011 at 12:43 PM

      I couldn’t have said it better myself. I literally could not have. Even on a good day.

    • Chris Fiorentino - May 19, 2011 at 12:48 PM

      That is a great and well-thought out comment, wls. Unfortunately, some people just think that getting an out in the 7th inning is just as big as getting an out in the 9th inning. They are completely blinded by the stats and think the players are robots, not human beings.

    • Mark - May 19, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      I think the bigger point here is that outside of 2002/2003 LaTroy Hawkins was never a good reliever and shouldn’t have been considered as the closer. If Hawkins is the best reliever in your bullpen, you have a bad bullpen.

      Let’s be honest, this is a guy with a career 4.53 ERA. This isn’t the poster child of someone you should be using in a high leverage situation to begin with. It really doesn’t prove your point. If I took Brian Bannister and threw him in the closer role and he failed, it wouldn’t mean that he can’t handle the closer role, it would just mean he’s a sub par reliever. Which is the case with Hawkins.

      Why don’t you pick someone who was actually a good reliever, or had a good career, that couldn’t be a closer despite putting up good numbers his entire career. Cause to me, it looks more like Hawkins should never have even been considered a good RP outside of 02/03, as opposed to a guy who failed in the 9th inning. As in, he failed in just about any inning he pitched in, not just the ninth.

      • wlschneider09 - May 19, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        With all due respect, I think you might have missed the point. Yes, Latroy is less than ideal closer material (he’s no Ron Davis), but that’s not really relevant. For the purposes of this discussion, during the relevant portion of Hawkins’ career, from 2000-2005, he was downright solid except when he was closing.

        The point is you have a guy who statistically should be performing at one level, but as soon as you changed his role (or more likely his confidence) he performed far worse. Same stuff, same guy, unpredicted results. Because of a human factor. The actual level of performance doesn’t matter, only the relative shift.

      • Mark - May 19, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        No, I understood your point. I disagreed with it, because to me it looks like a guy who had 2 fluke seasons in his career (02/03) rather then an established level of performance.

        You’re arguing that he should have statistically been performing at he 02/03 level when he was never that good to begin with. It’s like arguing that Reed Johnson should be able to be a starting LF because he had one flukey good season.

        In fact, you can’t even argue that he SHOULD have been performing at that level, given that his FIP was significantly higher than his ERA. So he actually overperformed – it’s just that he wasn’t a good reliever to begin with.

        I understand exactly what you’re saying. I just don’t agree with the fact that he can’t handle the role. A guy doesn’t just start walking 6 guys per 9 when he typically does 3, mental issues or not.

      • Mark - May 19, 2011 at 3:05 PM

        Bah, sorry, I wrote it wrong. During his career, his ERA was higher then his FIP, but during his 04 season, the one you say he screwed up in, his ERA was lower then his FIP. So he overperformed when he was in the closer role.

        It sucks that he blew all those saves, but he actually performed (relatively) better in the 04 year then we expected him too.

        And as I alluded to earlier, there must have been something clearly wrong with him, healthwise or mechanically, for him to walk more then 6 per inning. Being the closer doesn’t do that too a guy.

      • wlschneider09 - May 19, 2011 at 3:38 PM

        “A guy doesn’t just start walking 6 guys per 9 when he typically does 3, mental issues or not”

        Apparently some guys do. I didn’t make up that 1.91 WHIP.

        We’re not talking about a fluke year here, we’re talking about a 5 year segment of a guy’s career. Regardless of what the FIP says, he was that good, I know cause I watched the games and had him on a whole bunch of Fantasy baseball teams in a row. For that five year period he was solid when he set-up, dangerous when he closed. The reason it happened was because he got nervous, tried to throw too hard, and lost all his movement. You could see it, every time he got the ball in the ninth that fastball would creep up towards 95, the pitches would flatten out and he’d give up more hits and more walks. The Twins announcers used to point it out regularly. There was nothing wrong with his physical health.

        Same guy, same stuff. Consistently good as a setup guy, inconsistent to bad as a closer no matter what numbers you throw at it.

      • Mark - May 19, 2011 at 9:49 PM

        So I doubt you’ll see this, but I’m going to post it anyways because I just realized you couldn’t be more wrong:

        In 265 IP of save situations, Hawkins had a 3.36 ERA.
        In 439 IP of non-save situations, Hawkins had a…wait for it…3.38 ERA.

        So right off the bat, he was identical in both save and non save situations. So let’s just dispel this notion that he was some crappy pitcher in save situations who couldn’t handle it. He’s the exact same guy.

        If you want a break down by innings:

        7th inning: 4.96 ERA
        8th inning: 3.38 ERA
        9th inning: 3.29 ERA

        He was really no better or worse in save or non save situations. I really don’t know what else to tell you. He may have blown more games then you’d like as the closer, but throughout his career he was just as good in the 8th inning as he was in the 9th, and he was just as good in save situations as he was in non-save situations.

      • wlschneider09 - May 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM

        Break it down by year, not by inning over an entire career. You couldn’t be more wrong.

        You can use statistics the right way, or you can use them to back up whatever claim you happen to be making.

      • Mark - May 20, 2011 at 1:15 PM

        I broke it down by save situation and non-save situation. I don’t know what else you’re looking for.

        2001: Save situations: 4.78 ERA
        Non save situations: 7.91 ERA

        He was awful all season, but better in save situations when he was the closer. Let’s check out 2004 now.

        2004: Save situations: 2.87 ERA
        non save situations: 2.44 ERA

        Not really a huge difference, and he was pretty elite in both spots. You make it sound like he has a 3 ERA with save situations and 7 in non save situations.

        You’re going off memory, which as the stats show has been proven wrong. Over his career he’s been equal or better in save situations. As the closer in 2001 he was better then when he was not the closer (but still awful all year), and in 2004 he was excellent in both save and non-save situations.

        Yeah, he blew a ton of saves, but your argument about him pitching significantly worse and being unable to handle save situations is false.

  9. xmatt0926x - May 19, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Wow. Forget the fans who believe that closing is a different animal. So all of the countless pitchers and baseball people over the years who have said that clodsing takes a special type of person were wrong? Wow. All because Aaron Gleeman says so. And please, all the dopes who come onto a phillies post anytime they get a chance to rip what Philly fans have supposedly said or thought just to be pricks, are you honestly going to comment here that you’ve never heard people that have played or been involved with the game sday that they know that you need a special makeup to be a closer? I honestly don’t have a strong opinion either way. That being said I’ll lean towards the people who have done it and been closely involved with it as opposed to a blogger who just makes a blanket statement that there is nothing special about handling the 9th inning. It seems to me that the pressure of handling 1 inning where 1 mistake could very well cost you the game might be magnified over the guy who pitches an inning here or there in the 6th or 7th. It just seems like common sense. The fact that Madson may have grown significantly enough as a pitcher to now be able to handle the job better does not disprove that thought process.

    • seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 12:38 PM

      so basically what you are saying is that you’d rather have an inferior pitcher strickly based on the merit that he’s “done it before”. the kevin gregg, fernando rodney, and brian fuentes of the world are better pitching in the ninth then say koji uehara, jordan walden, or whoever else in the A’s bullpen, not because they are better pitchers, but because they’ve done it before. i’d think you’d want your best bullpen arm in the highest leverage inning, which usually is the ninth.

      • xmatt0926x - May 19, 2011 at 12:44 PM

        I agree that you’d want your more talented pitcher to have that role. Yes , you are right and that seems logical. But your point does not take away the fact that the talented pitcher you are talking about probably needs to be able to handle the special pressure you get from having the game on the line while he is on the mound.

      • xmatt0926x - May 19, 2011 at 12:45 PM

        As you have said, it’s “the highest leverage inning”. That says to me that somneone special is needed for that inning. And maybe it takes more than just ability but also a stronger mental approach for that highest leverage inning. You don’t agree?

      • seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        going by how he pitches in high leverage situations he has his best strikeout to walk rate and batters hit .235 agaisnt him

    • tomemos - May 19, 2011 at 4:45 PM

      Did you not read the post? Yes, in this case, the people who said that Madson couldn’t close WERE WRONG.

      • xmatt0926x - May 19, 2011 at 5:19 PM

        I think the main point of the article was not that philly fans who doubted Madson were wrong. I think the main point was that the 9th inning is just another inning and needs no more mental or physical ability than pitching in any other inning. I think thats what people are debating. Who cares if some fans doubted Madson? Thats not what all of these posts are about.

  10. Chris Fiorentino - May 19, 2011 at 12:32 PM

    Look who found his voice…Aaron, I find it pretty lame of you to not say one word in the original comment section, then create an entire post beating your chest when Madson converts 7 of 7 this year so far. What’s next…let me guess…if the Phillies win less than 100 games, are we going to get a post with my comments saying how they were a shoo-in to win 100? Or if they were to not win the NL East, would we get a post from Aaron explaining how wrong “phillies fans” were to have confidence that their team would win the division? Without a single comment from Aaron in the meantime? This post is a joke and I for one am shocked that Craig would let your silly hate for all things Phillies be posted on his, up until now, legitimate blog.

    Regarding Madson, he went 5 for 10 last year and 10 for 16 in 2009. I’m as happy as anyone that Ryan has finally learned to control his emotions and pitch much better in the all-important 9th inning to get those final 3 outs. If you are going to tell me Madson is the same pitcher in the 9th this year as he was the last two years, when he blew 11 save opportunities in 26 chances, then you are just being stubborn.

    • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      Phillies hatred? He’s the one that said all along that Madsen could do it. YOU were the one hating on him.

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 12:46 PM

        Don’t be a hero to Mr. Gleeman. Do you think he needs your help defending his article? It’s obvious you are not a lover of the Phillies. It’s OK. You’re probably a fan of some loser team and are jealous.

      • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 1:38 PM

        Yeah, pretty much. The Padres are pretty bad. It would be cool to see them put together the best rotation of all time and win 95 games a year for a decade. Because then I could cry about how bad a closer my top setup guy is.

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 1:52 PM

        Yeah,

        And guess what, b7p19, Heath Bell will be a Phillie before the trade deadline this year. You can take it to the bank (or, Citizens Bank Park).

        Take that smart guy!!

      • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 2:04 PM

        I would love that. The last thing I want Hoyer doing is paying Heath Bell $7 mil a year when the Pads already have 3 guys capable of closing right behind him.

    • seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM

      blown saves without context don’t do you any good. Madson had 24 blown saves coming into this year, only 7 blown saves came in the ninth inning. most of his blown saves came before the ninth but are still save situations, but should really be considered blown holds, but hey that’s just a made up stat(just like saves are).

      • Chris Fiorentino - May 19, 2011 at 1:40 PM

        I stand corrected, kinda. In 2009, he was 10 for 14 in 9th inning save opportunities. In 2010, he was 5 for 8 in 9th inning blown save opportunities. He would have been worse, but he unfortunately lost a battle with a metal chair and missed the months of May and June because of it. I don’t see anything in that guy right now that even vaguely resembles the one who kicked a chair after blowing a save against the Giants that fateful April day last year.

      • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        He also may have been much better had he not missed time for the chair deal.

    • cur68 - May 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM

      Fiorentino; Didn’t you make some sort of ill advised bet about streaking if they don’t win a 100 games? I don’t care what happens with the Phills but under NO circumstances are you to get naked and do ANYTHING in public, you feelin’ me, brah?

      I know everyone here at HBT nation wish the Phills a 100 victory season just so you keep your clothes on, if for nothing else. That includes divisional opponents.

      • Chris Fiorentino - May 19, 2011 at 1:42 PM

        100 wins or I’ll be streaking south from City Hall as far as I can until I get thrown in the back of a paddy-wagon. I think I’ll probably make South Street.

      • Jonny 5 - May 19, 2011 at 4:18 PM

        If you do actually make it to south street, you will then be safe. I guess you know that though. I remember the freaks there from when I was 5 years old…… And the Plasmatics and Iggy pop crowd were just awesome.

  11. b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    They use the same mound, baseball, bats, uniforms, umpires. Everything is the same. There is no difference. An out is an out is an out. People aren’t born to close. They practice pitching their entire lives and somebody at some point told them they were a closer which makes them a different breed. Cause and effect.

    • kellyb9 - May 19, 2011 at 1:20 PM

      You can keep saying that, but the evidence seems to indicate that it takes a different mentality to pitch as a closer than it does to pitch as a reliever. Some guys struggle and some guys thrive.

      • seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 1:37 PM

        what is your evidence?

      • Chris Fiorentino - May 19, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        What is your evidence to the contrary?

      • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 1:48 PM

        Thats exactly the point.

      • The Common Man/www.platoonadvantage.com - May 19, 2011 at 1:51 PM

        Yeah, seriously. What evidence do you have that it takes a “certain mentality” to close?

        While I do think that the 9th inning gets in some guys’ heads, I think that’s largely because of the importance we’ve put on the ninth inning and the role of closer, as opposed to the actual importance of the role as it’s currently constructed. And while I’d agree that there may be some pitchers who get freaked out by the role, a) I am certain it’s not nearly as many pitchers as people seem to think it is and b) I am also certain we don’t actually know who those guys are until they are given an extended look. Which Madson never really was.

      • xmatt0926x - May 19, 2011 at 5:24 PM

        seanmk, nobody can produce actual evidence since we are speaking of a mental difference needed to close. Since the article is about Ryan madson, look at the difference in his stats between 8th and 9th inning. Does that count for anything? no, I can’t sit here and say that his poor stats when attempting to close are definitive evidence, but can’t we at least say his stats say that it may eb a legitimate point that there must be some difference. I mean the guy is a stud in the 8th and then high 5 era when closing and thats all just coincidence? Even when the pitcher himself has admitted that there was a difference for him? Again, I’ll take the actual players word for it over all the bloggers and fans in the world. They’ve been there. We have not. Thats good enough for me.

      • tomemos - May 19, 2011 at 6:09 PM

        xmatt, kelly *said* there was evidence. We’re waiting for him to come back and make his case.

        Beyond which, if you’re right and there isn’t evidence, then what is there to care about? If the 9th inning is different but it doesn’t show up in pitchers’ stats, what actual difference is there?

    • seanmk - May 19, 2011 at 3:20 PM

      i’m looking for the graph of games won throughout history when teams have a lead in the ninth but having trouble finding it. http://joeposnanski.si.com/2010/11/26/the-age-of-the-setup-man/

  12. xmatt0926x - May 19, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    A little over a month ago Ryan Madson himself was quoted in the Philadelphia daily news as saying that he himself wasn’t aware of why his approach and thinking weren’t the same in the closers role. He pointed out that his agent, Scott Boras, actually specifically asked Ryan why his thinking changed when he was closing as opposed to setting up. So even the pitcher himself admitted that he didn’t have the same approach or mindset in the closers role and all of the stats back that up, but no!!!! Aaron Gleeman says not so!!!! No soup for you!!!!! Get off my lawn you bastards!!!!

    • dluxxx - May 19, 2011 at 3:01 PM

      This is the same pitcher who first said it was harder to close, and now says it is easier to close… Yep, his thinking seems to change a lot…

      • professor59 - May 20, 2011 at 11:28 AM

        A change in his personal mindset was necessary. And he made it, so kudos to him.
        I guess the next step up will be when he starts getting closer money and then feels another kind of pressure to perform. A lot of them can’t make that leap, but they usually do it for a different team anyway, so it won’t be the Phillies’ problem.

  13. kcq101 - May 19, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    I had posted the 3rd sampled comment, which was excerpted from a longer post. In that post, I indicated that he also had the best stuff out of the ‘Pen. And being a contract year for him, I think he deserves a shot at showing he has the capability of being an effective closer.

    But when it came time to decide between Contreras and Madson, I thought it was a prudent move to name Contreras the closer at the start. I still stand by that. Nonetheless, I hope Madson can maintain his success as the 9th inning guy. I think Contreras’ injury was a blessing in disguise to allow Madson to exhibit what he can do as a closer.

    I still believe that the 9th inning role carries more weight than the 8th inning. It’s not magical, just because it can’t be quantified as a baseball stat. There’s just a smaller margin for error and, thus, more pressure. And, raw ability aside, there’s a mental factor that a pitcher needs overcome in order to be effective. It’s an intagible trait that not every player has. To discount this “magical” notion is comparable to saying that there is no difference between a go-ahead foul shot in the 3rd quarter of a game vs. 15 seconds left in the 4th.

    So whether the “Far too many Phillies fans” were wrong or, rather, some of Madson’s prior experiences contributed to building up mental toughness and thicker skin, I cheer him in his success going forward as the closer.

    • Chris Fiorentino - May 19, 2011 at 1:05 PM

      Another great post. We weren’t “wrong”. We were just looking at Madson’s past history. How hard is that to understand?

  14. bigxrob - May 19, 2011 at 1:18 PM

    And for the opposite example (without any actual numbers to back it up), Brad Lidge has been a pretty closer in his career. Since he has become a full time closer, when he pitches in non-save situations, he has been a dumpster fire.

    • bigxrob - May 19, 2011 at 1:21 PM

      pretty “successful” closer

      I need a proofreader.

    • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      He doesn’t have the mentality to pitch in the 7th inning. That takes a different breed.

      • bigxrob - May 19, 2011 at 3:28 PM

        I guess if you want to be closed minded about it, you can look at it like that. I, on the other hand prefer not to be. While I believe that the save stat is fairly dumb and only using your “closer” in the 9th may not be the best plan (and not using him in a tie game on the road is dumb), I recognize that baseball players are people. I also recognize that regardless of the score and situation, the pitcher needs to get people out. Unfortunately, people are not machines. Maybe they grip the ball a little tighter in certain situations; maybe they lose focus in other situations. Just because you or I say that they shouldn’t feel more pressure in the 9th just because it is the last inning, doesn’t mean they won’t. Just because you or I don’t think a pitcher should lose focus with a 7 run lead, doesn’t mean they won’t.

  15. halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    To the San Diego loser that hasn’t a clue about how major league relief pitching works, Heath Bell will be a Phillie by the trade deadline, guaranteed.

    This will occur when the Padres are so many games out of first place they will need to start planning for the future.

    • b7p19 - May 19, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      As I responded the last time you said that exact same thing, I welcome the trading of Heath Bell.

      • halladaysbicepts - May 19, 2011 at 2:15 PM

        We’ll send you Michael Stutes in return and San Diego can put him in the closer role and see if it makes a difference from the 5th inning as opposed to the 9th.

      • tomemos - May 19, 2011 at 4:43 PM

        Wow, you just don’t know anything about baseball. The Padres already have at least two relievers–Gregerson and Adams–who most teams would love to have as their closer. And apparently the Phillies have Madson, who is doing terrific, despite your dire predictions.

        How do you think the Padres dealt with the loss of Trevor Hoffman, one of the great modern closers? Did they try to forge a new closer in the fires of Mount Doom, or call for the greatest pitchers from all the land to try to pull the sword from the pitching mound? No; they promoted their best reliever, and now he’s a great closer! Just like the Phillies just did! Astounding!

  16. dluxxx - May 19, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    Aaron has a pretty long standing dislike of the save stat, and if you’ve read anything else by him, you’ve probably seen it before. Also, I’ve rarely seen Aaron respond to posters, even on his own blog, let alone on HBT. So it’s pretty pointless to try to call him out. Here are some Twins related examples of his anti-save/use your best reliever in the best situations stance. If you read these, maybe they’ll answer some of your questions…

    http://aarongleeman.com/2011/05/12/proving-closers-and-expensive-saves/

    http://aarongleeman.com/2010/08/27/twins-get-brian-fuentes-from-the-angels-for-a-player-to-be-named-later/

    http://aarongleeman.com/2010/07/30/twins-get-matt-capps-from-nationals-for-wilson-ramos-and-joe-testa/

  17. rjmarrella - May 19, 2011 at 8:14 PM

    Have you actually watched madson in years past when he would fill in for lidge? This year he is a different pitcher. A much more complete pitcher.

  18. ginnitti - May 20, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Contract year for Madson as well. At only $4 million this season he’s playing himself into a big raise. If he continues to be this consistent look for Philadelphia to extend him long term and ween Lidge out of the system.

    Source: http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/philadelphia-phillies/ryan-madson/

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