It’s been a pretty tough few months for Ryan Madson. First the 31-year-old right-hander reportedly had a four-year, $44 million offer pulled off the table by his former team before they went all in on Jonathan Papelbon. After weeks of sitting on the offseason sidelines, he took a one-year, $8.5 million pillow contract from the Reds with an eye on a big multi-year payday next offseason. That won’t happen now. A nagging elbow injury this spring turned out to be a torn elbow ligament, and now the former Phillie will miss the season with Tommy John surgery.
An injury of this caliber has some far-reaching fantasy implications beyond the obvious — Madson being non-rosterable — so let’s break it down…
Sean Marshall | ADP: 246 (and quickly rising)
Acquired from the Cubs this winter and expected to be Madson’s primary setup man, Marshall is now likely to step in as the full-time closer. He’s more than qualified for the job, posting a 2.07 FIP and 5.0 WAR in 150.1 IP over the last two seasons. Papelbon is a distant second among relievers at 4.2 WAR. Marshall was one of those rare setup guys worth carrying in a standard 5×5 league, but now he’s a must own. In fact, I think it’s fair to expect top-five closer production out of him this season, so draft accordingly.
Aroldis Chapman | ADP: 254
The Reds just can’t seem to figure out what they want to do with Chapman. He’s supposedly in a competition for the fifth starter’s spot, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported over the weekend that Cincinnati is likely to send him back to the bullpen following Madson’s injury. Chapman has plenty of fantasy value as a setup man, just not as much as he would as a starter. The good news is that his walk rate improved as the season went on last year…
…but he’s still very much in the danger zone. Chapman is sure to provide a ton of strikeouts (career 12.79 K/9 and 34.9 K%) and should keep his ERA at a reasonable level, but the walks will prevent his WHIP from being elite unless he gets some serious BABIP love. Other than a handful of fill-in chances, it’s tough to see him wrestling save opportunities from Marshall.
Homer Bailey | ADP: 270
Bailey is Chapman’s primary competition in that fifth starter battle. He’s out of minor league options, meaning he can’t be sent down without first passing through waivers. Unless the Reds trade him, Bailey will be on their Opening Day roster in some capacity, and Madson’s injury and Chapman’s likely shift back to the bullpen means he’ll likely be with the club as the fifth starter.
The six projection systems we carry on the site expect something like a ~4.05 ERA with a mid-7.0s K/9 in 160-ish innings out of Bailey in 2012, making him standard back of the fantasy rotation fodder. The important thing is that the Madson injury gives him a little more job security as a starting pitcher now, and as a 25-year-old former top prospect, there’s definitely still some breakout potential left here.