Underrated reliever Ryan Madson comes up big for Phillies

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It’s probably time that Ryan Madson got some attention for being one of the best relievers in baseball.

He’s appeared in four of five NLCS games, tossing 4.2 scoreless innings, and went 6-2 with a 2.55 ERA, .212 opponents’ batting average, and 64/13 K/BB ratio in 55 innings during the regular season.

Since moving to the bullpen full time in 2007 he has a 3.01 ERA and more strikeouts (252) than hits allowed (242) in 269 innings.

Wednesday night in Game 4 he induced what should have been an inning-ending double play in the seventh, only to have Jimmy Rollins boot the Cody Ross ground ball and load the bases with one out and Pablo Sandoval at the plate. Things could have unraveled in a hurry, but instead Madson turned to Rollins and said, “I got you.” True to his word, he induced an actual inning-ending double play, wriggling out of trouble, and went on to toss a scoreless eighth inning too.

Madson came up big again last night in Game 5, protecting a 3-2 lead with a flawless eighth inning that saw him strike out Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, and Cody Ross. He set them down in order, all swinging, on a total of 13 pitches. Like it was nothin’.

An excellent changeup has always been Madson’s best offering and the pitch has become even tougher to hit thanks to his fastball velocity improving from low-90s early in his career to 94-95 miles per hour over the past two seasons. Toss in a good cut-fastball–which he leaned on heavily in Game 5–and Madson is a rare reliever with three plus pitches in his arsenal.

All of which is why during the past four seasons the only relievers in baseball to throw as many innings as Madson with a lower ERA are Mariano Rivera, Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol, and Darren Oliver.

It’s time to start talking about him as one of the best relievers in the game.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.

Yankees activate Didi Gregorius from the disabled list

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The Yankees have activated shortstop Didi Gregorius from the 10-day disabled list, the club announced on Friday. Infielder Pete Kozma was designated for assignment to clear roster space.

Gregorius, 27, suffered a strained right shoulder while playing in the World Baseball Classic last month. He’s in Friday’s starting lineup, batting sixth against the Orioles.

Last season, Gregorius hit .276/.304/.447 with 20 home runs and 70 RBI in 597 plate appearances.