Ryan Madson is in the final season of a three-year, $12 million deal and the setup man told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he “would love the opportunity to stay and finish my career here.”
Madson also told Gelb that he’d like the chance to be a closer and with the Phillies likely to decline their $12.5 million option on Brad Lidge for 2012 there’s an opportunity to assume ninth-inning duties in Philadelphia.
Gelb speculates that the payroll won’t have enough room to keep both Madson and Lidge, but it remains to be seen if the Phillies are comfortable with the notion of Madson as a full-time closer. He’s struggled at times when asked to fill in for Lidge, but Madson’s overall body of work as a setup man shows him as one of the elite relievers in all of baseball and there’s little doubt he could translate that success to the closer role if given an extended shot.
Of course, Madson has been so consistently excellent as a setup man that several teams are likely to offer him a closing gig if he hits the open market. 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. During that time 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.
Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.
Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.
Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.
On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.