In Defense of Second Chances and Common Sense
Ryan Madson had a terrible year as a reliever for the Washington Nationals and then the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite a 94-96 mph fastball, he was ineffective: An earned run average of 5.48 combined.
Sure he’d overcome a lot to still be playing, what with injuries and rehab and retirement and the work required to return to the game. But as great as his story is, there’s just no way around the fact he was not getting people out.
So, the question today is, after he yacked all over himself in the first two games of the 2018 World Series, “Why is he on the Dodgers’ 2018 World Series roster, or the postseason roster for that matter?” In this instance, it’s easy to second-guess.
Ah, but slow down there, chief pinger-fointer. It wasn’t like he hadn’t pitched since the last day of September. He was on the division series roster and the championship roster too.
And here’s what he did: Seven appearances, six hits, one run.
So, although I was curious why he was on the postseason roster I give credit to manager Dave Roberts for making that call. It worked out during the division and championship series and it’s perfectly understandable why Madson thought he could trust Madson in Game 1.
So, yes, Madson let the two runners score in Game 1 and of course there’s no way to tell what would happen if another reliever had been brought in.
But what I can’t figure out is why Roberts left Madson in after his appearance in Game 2 started almost exactly the same way as Game 1, with four straight pitches that were not anywhere near the strike zone. I mean he walked in the tying run for cripes sakes. And surely there has to be somebody in the Dodgers bullpen that could have been brought in. Where was Dylan Floro? Kenta Maeda? Josh Fields? Oh, wait. Fields isn’t even on the roster.
Look, the results in Game 1 speak for themselves: Two inherited runners left by Clayton Kershaw came in to score after Madison spiked the first pitch and walked the first batter and then gave up a hit.
It was pretty clear things weren’t any better when Madson walked Steve Pearce in Game 2, and then let JD Martinez drive in two with hit to right center.
Sure, Roberts is in the World Series for the second year in a row and I’m not. But I don’t think it’s unfair to look at who else was available for the Dodgers in either situation and to ask why there are six starting pitchers on the roster. Fields had a 2.20 ERA in 45 Games this year. Although a career 7.20 ERA and 10 postseason appearances might’ve knocked him off the list. But again isn’t the postseason about what you’ve done for me lately? Speaking of which, where is Ross Stripling? His 2.32 ERA against lefties certainly would come in handy and where was Dylan Florio and his 31 K’s in 27.2 innings during the year? Or Jorge Baez and his 2.88 ERA? Both of them of been solid, better than solid even, against right-handers.
While we’re calling into question Dave Roberts’ managerial decisions let’s also take into account the disappearance of Max Muncy, the Dodgers first baseman from the lineup. Sure David Freese has been great (3-for-5) against two left-handed starters. But no Muncy means no 35-home-run guy in your lineup, who also hit a very-respectable .255 on the year against left-handed pitching with eight home runs. I’d rather have him in the lineup and move Freese to second in the place of Brian Dozier.
As for the argument Joc Peterson should play against lefties, he hit .170 against lefties on the year and Cody Bellinger‘s only hitting .209. There’s not much of an argument there.
But there is an argument to made that Roberts gave Madson one two many chances in Game 2. We’ll see if he learns from it in Game 3.