SleepersJune 9, 2009

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Sleeper Watch

By R.J. White

This week’s Sleeper of the Week has a sponsor! The Week 10 Sleeper of the Week is brought to you by Rotisserie League Innings Pitched Limits. Rotisserie League Innings Pitched Limits: When Every Inning Counts. The smart fantasy owner knows the value of rostering elite setup men, the kind of guys that give you a strikeout per inning or better while vulturing saves and wins and helping to lower ratios. One of the best setup men to have this year has been Ryan Madson, a former top prospect who has finally lived up to his billing on a consistent basis.

Madson has had a spectacular year thus far, accumulating two wins and two saves while earning a 2.22 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 28.1 innings. He’s also struck out 31 batters (giving him a K/9 ratio of nearly 10) while walking only nine and allowing nary a homer. Think about that last point for a moment — Madson hasn’t given up a home run in 28.1 innings, even though he calls Citizens Bank Park home. Madson has been so good that a look at his 1.88 FIP (a metric used to determine what his ERA should be based on peripheral stats) shows that he should actually have a lower ERA than his current 2.22 mark suggests. Some of that ties into the whopping 25% of batted balls becoming line drives that he’s allowed to date.

After the experiment to make Madson a starter failed in 2006, he returned to a full-time relief role in 2007 and notched a 6.91 K/9 and a 3.70 BB/9, giving him a 1.87 K/BB ratio. Those numbers aren’t good enough for a quality starting pitcher and nowhere near good enough for a quality reliever. In 2008, he maintained the strikeouts by scoring a 7.29 K/9, while his BB/9 shrunk to 2.50 and allowed him to have a very good 2.91 K/BB ratio. This year, he’s maintained the control, walking 2.86 batters per nine innings, while his K/9 has jumped all the way to 9.85, earning him an elite 3.44 K/BB ratio. These metrics, as well as the shrinking HR/9 rate (1.34 in 2006, 0.80 in 2007, 0.65 in 2008 and 0.00 this year), have placed Madson among the elite setup men in the game.

With the Phillies being a winning ball club, Madson has a higher potential to vulture wins than most setup men. Phillies closer Brad Lidge has had a shaky season, so it’s also possible that Madson could be called on to close should a Lidge injury reveal itself. But even if that doesn’t come to pass, you’ll still enjoy the benefits of a low ratio pitcher that racks up a ton of Ks for your team.

R.J. White (or daullaz) has been actively involved in fantasy sports for over 14 years, making him an addict at this point. He loves writing, the Atlanta Braves, music, the Buffalo Bills, theatre, the Philadelphia Eagles, his family, and the number 42, though not in that order.
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