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Madson To Get Start Under Lights

Originally, Fabio Castro was slated to start tonight’s 7:05 p.m. game against the Reds in Sarasota. However, the penciled starter for tonight is now Ryan Madson.

Giving Madson the start signals a possible change in the fifth starter race, as the team could be looking at the 27-year-old to possibly start the year in that role. For his career, Madson has started 18 games, going 8-5 with a a 6.82 ERA in 91 innings. He walked 38 and struck out 61 in that span. Seventeen of those 18 starts came in 2006, when he was awarded the fourth starter role.

Manager Charlie Manuel, however, says Madson isn’t moving to the rotation:

“Forget it, he’s in the ‘pen,” he told Randy Miller of the Bucks County Courier Times.

Pitching Coach Rich Dubee said they want Madson to throw against better hitters. Sounds a little unusual.

If they’re pulling the wool and thinking about Madson moving to the rotation, I say no. Madson doesn’t seem comfortable as a starter. His splits show that in spades. As a reliever, he carries a very strong 3.22 ERA. In the 6th inning of games, he holds batters to a .252 AVG; in the 7th, it’s .262, and in the 8th, it’s .245. Meanwhile, his 1st-through-5th innings read .381, .292, .279, .289, and .303.

Maybe a healthy Madson can make strides as a starter, but the already-depleted bullpen needs him back there. He’s much more valuable as the guy who can get big right-handed outs in front of Lidge. One commenter asked about JC Romero’s splits against lefties and righties:

Romero vs. righties, 2007: 144 PA, 23 H, 9 R, 26 BB, 22 K, .198 AVG
Romero vs. lefties, 2007: 93 PA, 16 H, 7 R, 14 BB, 20 K, .208 AVG

Great numbers against both, correct? Well, I’d think twice before opening him up to both sides of the plate:

Romero vs. righties, career: 1450 PA, 331 H, 204 R, 195 BB, 231 K, .270 AVG
Romero vs. lefties, career: 816 PA, 160 H, 93 R, 82 BB, 178 K, .227 AVG

All I would say is be very careful with Romero. And the best way to be careful is to use Madson against righties and in high-pressure situations. Madson has never showed himself to be an effective starter; the Phillies do have better starter-worthy candidates in Chad Durbin, Kris Benson and Travis Blackley. (More on Durbin later today.)

It’s possible the Phillies are thinking Francisco Rosario could take the 7th inning torch from Madson, allowing Mad Dog to move into the rotation. It’s possible that’s not the case at all. But moving him to a starter role? I don’t like it. Madson is a proven back-end reliever and the only one I feel the Phillies can really count on today. Keep him where he belongs. Give a real fifth starter candidate the start tonight; don’t waste the opportunities.

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