Ryan Madson, RP (RHP)
Age: 28 (29, Aug. 28)
2008: 82.2 IP / 4-2 / 3.05 ERA / 23 BB / 67 K / 1 SV / 2 BS / 1.23 WHIP
Summary: Now a model of consistency, Madson posted his second-consecutive 3.05 ERA season. He did it by keeping a high-enough K/9 ratio (7.29), a low-enough BB/9 ratio (2.50), a good left-on-base ratio (78.2 percent) and his highest ground-ball ratio yet (51 percent). This might be due to more pitches down in the zone, of course, mostly by his fastball (57.5 percent of his pitches). A three-pitch guy (fastball, changeup, cutter), he became basically a two-pitch guy in the postseason, rearing back with his fastball and registering all-time highs of 96-98 miles per hour.
Career Level: Prime (Year 1)
Green Flags: If Madson continues to stay with two pitches he can be devastating, since the fastball has become plus-plus and the changeup is already plus. … His walk rate was at its lowest value since 2004, likely due to his withdrawal of breaking pitches. … His home run rates have steadily decreased, as well.
Red Flags: Injury might become a factor, as Madson seems to ail every other season. … He might become predictable, but that will only hurt if he loses velocity on the fastball.
Prognostication: All experts believe Madson will step back in 2009, but if he’s healthy and his fastball retains mid- to high-90s speed, he might have a better season than 2008. Truthfully, Madson has developed from a five-pitch starter to a two-pitch lethal back-end threat. As he enters his prime, he seems poised to recreate that postseason magic. Moreover, all signs point to steady improvement. We’ll go with a positive outlook for Mr. Madson.
2009 Projection: 73.1 IP / 4-4 / 2.82 ERA / 21 BB / 70 K / 2 SV / 2 BS / 1.10 WHIP