Madson claims he’s ready for action this weekend as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery performed more than a year ago, but instead he’s been sent to Triple-A Salt Lake City to begin a rehab assignment originally announced as scheduled for several weeks. It’s tough to tell how long Madson will be there, but his fastball velocity is reportedly down around 91-92 mph, and the Angels want to be thorough. Remember, back in February, the Angels were talking about Madson being ready for the start of the season. That did not happen.
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY SportsRyan Madson saved 32 games for the Phillies in 2011 but hasn't pitched in the majors since.
The question for fantasy owners is how soon Madson usurps the closer role from right-hander Ernesto Frieri, if at all. I have to admit, while I have believed all along that a healthy, thriving Madson would take the job and run with it, the Angels might not be in agreement. Frieri continues to battle occasional control issues, but he also boasts a 1.56 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. Opponents are hitting .136 off him and left-handed batters are a miserable 1-for-31 off him, the lone hit being an A.J. Pierzynski game-winning home run. Frieri has been very good, so while fantasy owners continue to ask about Madson, I’m not sure it matters. Yes, he has more closing experience, but he also has more setup experience.
Madson is owned in 52.5 percent of ESPN standard leagues, so he’s relatively popular for a guy who hasn’t thrown a pitch in a game for a really long time. He’s not a bad stash, after all. Manager Mike Scioscia could call his name to close in June. Or he might never call it. I’m guessing Madson will save games this season, but from June 1 on, I’m betting Frieri saves more. Anyway, here are 10 pitchers owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues that I think will save games from this point on this season, in order of current ownership.
David Hernandez, Arizona Diamondbacks: Hey, good for Heath Bell. Nice success story. For left-handed hitters, that is. Just a matter of time before the better pitcher gets chances, though I will point out that those cutting J.J. Putz will also likely miss out on saves since he’s not expected to be out long-term.
Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals: Kudos to Edward Mujica, but he’s throwing all split-finger fastballs and regular fastballs. I just think the (much) harder-throwing Rosenthal is better, and the Cardinals have made closer changes in recent seasons that didn’t appear needed to be made based on performance (see Fernando Salas, 2011). Wouldn’t shock me if Carlos Martinez starts 2014 closing here, with Rosenthal in the rotation.
Joel Peralta, Tampa Bay Rays:Fernando Rodney seemed back on track before Thursday’s nightmare, and the fact 19 of his 35 pitches were not strikes is particularly noteworthy. The steady Peralta is next in line, though I doubt a change is made soon unless Rodney is hurt.
Notes:Boston Red Sox right-hander Andrew Bailey should come off the DL soon, and I expect him to pretty much vault right into the closer role. Junichi Tazawa has done nothing wrong, but I smell the incumbent getting saves, at least until his next DL stint. … Jonathan Broxton is still next in line should something befall Aroldis Chapman, but J.J. Hoover is the one with three saves. Don’t read into it, as there were extenuating circumstances each time. … Los Angeles Dodgers flamethrower Kenley Jansen saved Tuesday’s win, and appeared to seize the closer role. The next night he entered in the seventh inning and Brandon League closed. The closer change could happen in time, but you shouldn’t dump League yet. Manager Don Mattingly doesn’t tip his hand because, he probably doesn’t know. … I no longer think Frank Francisco is in play to close for the New York Mets. Bobby Parnell seems safe. … Something is clearly awry with Philadelphia Phillies setup man Mike Adams. Don’t own him for safe innings or potential saves. … Heath Hembree is piling on the saves for Triple-A Fresno. Sergio Romo looks tremendous for the San Francisco Giants, but the dynasty stash is Hembree.