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The Rise and Fall of Ryan Madson

After working his way through the minors as a starter, Ryan Madson made his major league debut with the Phillies in late 2003 as a reliever.  He's mostly stuck in that position since then.  What started out as an extremely promising career has gone in the tank, with a 5.69 ERA last year and two horrendous outings contributing to two of the Phils' three losses so far this year.  What happened?

Looking at all 183 of Madson's outings, it appears that his career took its turn for the worse in outing 121 on September 10, 2005.  

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IP ERA WHIP BABIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Until 9/10/05 157 2.69 1.12 0.282 7.05 2.29 0.69
9/10/05 and after 146.33 6.17 1.72 0.389 6.90 3.42 1.65

Since September 10, 2005, in roughly the same number of innings as before, Madson has had an ERA almost 150% higher than before, with a much higher WHIP, and a BABIP over .100 higher. His pitching components are also all worse, with just a slightly worse strikeout rate but much worse walk and home run rates.

Below, I'll take a look at that fateful day of September 10, 2005, and then at Madson's career trends.

First, September 10, 2005. The Phils were in the second game of a 3 game series against the Marlins. They had just suffered a devastating loss at the end of a crushing series against the Astros. On September 9, they rebounded nicely, with a 12-5 drubbing of the Marlins (powered by Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, and Bobby Abreu). Madson pitched an inning in that game, giving up one hit and nothing else.

Going into the game of September 10, the Phils found themselves 1.5 games behind the Astros and 1 game behind the Marlins in the Wild Card race. A win on September 10 would have tied the Phils with the Marlins. Madson entered the game in the 7th with the Phils ahead 6-4. In one inning, Madson faced 8 batters, hitting one, walking one, and giving up three line drive singles. Three runs scored, giving the Marlins a 7-6 lead, which wound up being the final score of the game. Thanks to Madson, the Phils finished the game 2 games back of the Marlins and 2.5 behind the Astros (who won that night). And, as we all know, the Phils finished 2005 1 game out of the Wild Card, and 2 games out of the NL East lead.

I have no way of knowing if that game, and all the pressure associated with it, got to Madson, but I do know that since then, he hasn't been the same pitcher. The numbers above bear that out, as do the charts below.

These charts are for each of the stats listed above showing Madson's career progression for that stat, as well as his running total for the most recent 10 games. The charts all show a pitcher who was having a pretty good career . . . until September 10, 2005.