Oakland Athletics 2016 Preview: Ryan Madson Can Fix the A’s Bullpen Woes


Will Oakland Athletics’ right-hander Ryan Msadon repeat his dominant 2015 season, or will the A’s regret spending big bucks on their bullpen?

The Oakland Athletics went on a bullpen-remodeling rampage this winter, signing a big group of free agent relievers in the hopes of forgetting all of the late-inning losses suffered last season. Perhaps the biggest name out of this group was that of free agent Ryan Madson, a right-hander who spent 2012-2014 on the sidelines before coming back with a vengeance as a Kansas City Royal last season.

From 2007-2011, Madson posted a 2.89 ERA with the Philadelphia Phillies. After spending time as the setup man for Phils’ closer Brad Lidge, Madson had established a name for himself. When Lidge was injured, it gave Madson an opening. In 2011, he was named the team’s replacement closer, saving 32 games in 62 appearances, with a 2.37 ERA.

But before the start of the 2012 season, Madson was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery after tearing a ligament in his elbow.

He had signed a deal with the Cincinnati Reds prior to the start of that season, but never played a game with them. During his three years of rehab, he briefly spent time with the Angels’ organization as well, but he just couldn’t get healthy. It wasn’t until 2015 that he was able to return to the majors.

More from White Cleat Beat

Madson dominated hitters last season with the Royals, as he helped the team reach and win the World Series.

He made 68 appearances, earning a 2.13 ERA over 63.1 innings. He only walked 14 batters all season, despite striking out 58. Although he didn’t fair quite as well in the postseason, it’s safe to say that Madson was a huge part of why the Royals bullpen was regarded as one of the best in the league.

Now he’s in an Athletics’ uniform, and he seems poised for another big season – this time as the setup man for closer Sean Doolittle. So far this Spring Training, Madson has not allowed a run in five innings of work. In five appearances, he’s allowed six hits and a walk, while striking out four.

The 35-year-old has a mid-90s fastball, and a changeup in the low 80s – a combination that makes him hard to hit. His velocity has remained the same compared to his early days with the Phillies, despite his lengthy break from baseball.

He will certainly be a nice veteran addition to the bullpen.

Madson received a three-year, $22 million deal this winter, so this will be the first of many Opening Days at the O.Co for him. Combined with John Axford, Liam Hendriks, and Fernando Rodriguez, he should give the Athletics a rock-solid right-handed side of the bullpen.

He was especially dominant against left-handed hitters last season, posting a 2.81 ERA against righties and a 1.44 ERA versus lefties. However, in his career, he’s had fairly even splits – right-handers are more likely to get a base hit off of him, but left-handers are much more likely to walk or hit a home run. His ability to get batters from both sides of the plate to make outs is the reason he is a good setup man, as opposed to someone used in matchup situations.

Next: A's Vs. Angels: Who Wins in 2016?

Despite his lengthy absence from baseball, Madson has been otherwise healthy throughout his career and injuries shouldn’t be a huge concern this season. Overall, look for him to have a big year as he sets up saves for Doolittle.

Bold Prediction: Madson will finish the season with a sub-2.50 ERA and 60 strikeouts. By the end of the season, everyone will agree that this was one of the best deals of the off-season.

What are your thoughts on Ryan Madson? Be sure to let us know in the comments.