How does Madson’s injury affect the Reds?

News came today that Ryan Madson will have Tommy John surgery and is down for the season. This is a painful loss for the Reds, but it’s mostly an emotional wound. Madson is/was an excellent relief pitcher, but the Reds still have a strong bullpen, even if it isn’t as strong and deep as it was before.

It is important to remember that relief pitchers rarely, if ever, contribute as much to a team as many people believe. They just don’t throw enough innings to have an enormous impact. Madson was among the best, but it was unlikely he was going to be the difference maker for the Reds this year.

So what are the repercussions for the rest of the team? Sean Marshall is probably going to close. He’s easily the best reliever on staff (this was true before the Madson injury, as well) and recently signed an extension with the implication that he would close after this year. The setup role is less certain, but there’s a good chance it reverts to Nick Masset, since he’s held that job the last several years.

Everyone is going to want to know what this means for lefty Aroldis Chapman. Lots of people are already convinced he’s headed to the bullpen, but don’t be so certain. While Reds manager Dusty Baker has been constantly pushing to have Chapman move to the pen, GM Walt Jocketty has indicated that Chapman will start, be it in Triple-A or the majors.

Only with the injury to Madson has Jocketty said Chapman might move to the bullpen. “Maybe” was the word he used, and that should encourage Reds fans.

This is Chapman’s last option year, and if they plan to convert him to starting, this is the time to do it. Inserting him into an already-good bullpen as a Band-Aid would be a short-sighted mistake.

Jason teaches high school English, writes fiction, runs a small writing program and writes about education and literature. He also writes for Redleg Nation and both writes and edits for The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @JasonLinden, visit his website or email him here.
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Paul Uhls
12 years ago

Why can’t Chapman be this team’s closer? I find it hard to believe that they have maybe one of the only humans ever capable of pitching a ball 105MPH, and nobody thinks that wouldn’t be an advantage to a closer? Wouldn’t it be at least palpable that the Reds could say, “Hey, go throw 105MPH for an inning every couple of days. And while yer at it, mix in that knee buckling slider every now and then.” Blows my mind that nobody thinks his stuff would make him a good closer. Specially since the Reds are sorta in need of one now.

Jason Linden
12 years ago

Oh, he can be. I don’t think anyone doubts that. It’s just that closers are enormously overrated in terms of their value and, generally speaking, an average starting pitcher is much more valuable than an excellent reliever.

the Flint Bomber
12 years ago

The key question would seem to be…why keep Aroldis as a set-up man and NOT a closer?  I can see moving him into the rotation, as it seems they should.  But if they don’t…AND they don’t make him a closer…what then?  I’m a Cubs fan, and I KNOW Dusty’s not an innovative mind enough to use Aroldis in a “high-leverage no matter what” role like Davey Johnson seems to be ready to to in Washington with Clippard if Drew Storen spends time on the shelf.

If the Reds had Tony LaRussa as manager, they’d win the NL Central this year.

Dave Eberly
12 years ago

Paul, Jason said it better than I.  Do you think the Tigers would rather have Verlander closing?  Not saying that Chapman his him, at all, but if he can start and be a #1 or #2, much better for him and the Reds.

12 years ago

Flint hit it on the head…either closer or starter. I don’t think there’s an in-between situation here. You need to be getting value out of such an explosive arm. I’d rather have Homer in the bullpen as a set-up guy and Chapmania starting. How beautiful does a Cueto-Latos-Arroyo-Leake-Chapman rotation look?

Mark waugh
12 years ago

Your provided view makes me wise about the way of Madson’s injury affecting the Reds. Thanks a lot for this helpful job. Keep it up.

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